Natural this, natural that, are natural flavors really natural? Today we are taking a dive into the world of natural flavors and talking about a bar that you might have thought was a pretty good option. Let’s get started.
Why “natural” doesn’t mean anything
Before we go anywhere, let’s talk about the importance of the word natural. I don’t have much to say because it don’t mean a dang thing. The word isn’t regulated or monitored and it definitely doesn’t mean anything other than “let me trick you into thinking these potato chips are healthy”.
In one way or another, some bars, granola, chips, nut butters and other “natural” foods have slipped into the health food world. While it makes me have to write posts like this to teach you the truth, I must applaud their marketing coordinators. They do a fantastic job at making their products seem like the bees knees and getting “health bloggers” on board to share them with their followers.
Today – while I am talking mostly about RX Bars – the discussion of ingredients in this post remain true across the board. It’s time for you to educate yourself and be an empowered buyer!
The reason I am talking about RX Bars is because I have had a personal experience with them and get asked about them on a daily basis by my Instagram family. You are confused about how a product like this could say “no B.S.” on the front then, have natural flavors and improperly disclosed ingredients on the back.
This is what I like to call deceptive marketing. The same marketing that puts the word natural on products like chips, cookies and popcorn. The kind of marketing that makes you feel like you’ve been a-okay all these years buying that natural chocolate spread.. no names!
Deceptive marketing is what gets me going. It almost brings out a rage in me because of the misguidance is brings and the confusing it comes with. There isn’t anything I hate more than you being misled when you are trying to do the right thing. It just gets me, you too? Onto the ingredients.
Ingredients in RX Bars
According to the front of the label:
Egg whites, Dates, Nuts, Fruit, No B.S.
According the back of the label + research:
Egg white protein powder/egg white fractions from conventional eggs that are fed GMO feed. It’s “good for animals, humans and the environment” according to this email from an employee. They were sued for mislabeling a partial protein as an egg white. Additionally, denatured protein is very difficult for our bodies to digest. More on this below in “my experience”.
Nuts that are either cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pecans or almonds. When non organic can contain multiple pesticides that are known (1) carcinogens, (4) hormone disruptors and (3) neurotoxins.
Berries that are not organic, dried and later infused with apple juice. Berries rank #1 on the dirty dozen for top sprayed fruits and vegetables.
When I asked for their studies on the safety of GMOs, here is the response I got. This opens another can of worms I will discuss another time, most pro-GMO studies are funded by ag companies or GMO companies themselves. There’s a conflict of interest that I will not overlook. Always know your sources.
Are natural flavors really natural
I’ve covered this topic on my Instagram account and blog posts since it’s a controversial topic that not many people discuss. I see health food bloggers touting products with natural flavor on the daily and I have to get the science and facts to you so you can make an INFORMED decision. I’ll lay it out in bullets so it is more readable. So, are natural flavors really natural?
- natural flavor consists of over 3000 unregulated ingredients including products from animals (vegans, watch out for this)
- their purpose is the same as artificial ingredients, to add flavor back to products that have been heavily processed
- diacetyl and pentanedione are common natural flavors that are linked to bronchiolitis obliterations, airway fibrosis and pulmonary effects
- 3700+ ingredients have been added to the market without FDA approval
- organic products can contain non-organic natural flavors
- the FDA uses GRAS (generally recognized as safe) to measure safety, yet it’s an unregulated system with no guidelines or “safe” limits
- rules for GRAS have never been finalized
- nano materials ( in packaging) fall into the natural flavors category
- NTP (National Toxicology Program) found isoeugenol as unsafe due to it’s carcinogenic effects yet the FDA marked it as safe
- natural flavors are concentrated which makes them addicting. Hello “I’ll just have a few chips..”.
FD&C Act of 1935 was passed after 100 deaths due to an untested additive. The Delaney Clause was part of this act and it prohibited the use of pesticides that were carcinogenic in humans and animals. It strangely was removed in 1996. Later in 1960, premarket approval was added for color additives, synthetic and natural flavor.
With this being said, always check in with specific brands. Some brands do state “natural flavors” and are using high quality natural ingredients. Vital Proteins is one of them!
Using large influencers / dietitians
Unfortunately, a lot of the accounts I love promote products with natural flavors. I understand how it would be difficult to differentiate healthy from not when “health” bloggers are pushing this stuff out on a daily basis. This is why it’s so so important for you to be your own informed buyer.
Read articles like this, follow people you trust and buy from brands you believe in. Transparency is key and if I don’t find it, I won’t buy it! You ask yourself “Are natural flavors actually natural?”. Being informed is the best gift you can give yourself and your family.
Before I say this, know that it could be completely coincidental. I was eating RX Bars pretty regularly for a post gym snack, road trip bite or when we traveled internationally. After eating them for a few months, my nausea started and I couldn’t get rid of it. 7 months later and being (literally) stuck in my bed with stomach discomfort, I went in for an allergy test. I had cut everything out and there was no relief.
To my surprise, I was diagnosed with an egg allergy! Egg whites, to be exact. Again, this could be unrelated but I personally don’t think it is!
- GoMacro Bars [vegan] – I don’t eat them anymore because of the brown rice syrup or high sugar content but they are delicious!
- Evo Hemp Bars [V]
- Aloha Bars [V]
- Perfect Bars
- Primal Thin Bars
- Square Bars – do contain cane sugar & more like a candy bar (so good)
- Purely Elizabeth Grain-free Bars
Now for you, are natural flavors really natural? Make your own INFORMED choices!
As always, I write these posts to inform not sway. I want you to make your own decision and if that’s to continue eating RX Bars and other products with these ingredients, at least you know what you’re eating now. If you have any questions, comment below. This is a MEAN FREE space and while discussion and disagreement is fanatic, being a butt isn’t. Any claims you make, back them. Any statements you argue against, have science for them. If not, I’ll skip right over it.