Food labels basics: “Natural favoring”

Natural FlavorsNatural Flavors

Natural flavoring are nothing more than food additives to enhance flavor

How many times have you wondered what natural and artificial flavors on the ingredient list actually are. I am sure you have assumed that if it is natural that it must be healthier. The term “natural flavors” is common on many ingredients lists and is a selling point for many products. The problem is that there is little to no proof that “natural flavors” are any more healthy than “artificial flavors”.

The “natural flavorings” and “artificial flavorings” are flavoring agents that food manufacturers add to their products to enhance the taste. The term “natural flavoring” is pretty confusing and even misleading. This blog post is my detailed look at what natural flavors are, how they compare to artificial flavors, and an answer to your potential health concerns.

Processed and shelf stable foods add these additives to assist with flavor. Fresh foods do not usually need flavor enhancement. The longer they are stored, the more assistance they need because the natural flavor of the food depletes or stales over time. The added flavors also help magnify the natural flavors.

The flavor of food is tied to the smells or aromas, but even more, it is a combination of the aroma, texture or feel of the food, and taste. When we cook, we actually add many of the “natural flavors” to food as we cook. These recipes call for flavor enhancers. So what are these enhancers I speak of? They are spices. Spices are just one of many “natural” flavor additives that the FDA allows to called “natural”.

Natural Flavoring
Natural Flavoring

Natural additives allowed by FDA:

  • Plant partsBark or trees and plants
  • Buds
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Extracts
  • Fish
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Meat, poultry or seafood
  • Oils
  • Plant material such as buds, bark, leaves
  • Spices
  • Vegetables
  • Yeast

The bottom line: Natural flavors are tastes and aromas extracted from plants and animals for the purpose of creating a desired flavor. The purpose is to enhance processed foods that will be stored. Natural flavors enhance the flavor but rarely contribute nutritional value to a food or beverage. If you improve flavor, you might help lower claorie intrake and weght loss.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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