Tag Archives: food additives

Understanding The Difference Between Natural and Organic Products

We’ve all heard the expressions about talking the talk and not walking the walk, but sometimes you can’t do one without the other. Take health food, for example. You may be totally sincere and earnest about your desire to eat well, but with all the confusing health food lingo, you may not be sure about what that means. Should you be looking for a prebiotic, a probiotic, a macrobiotic, or an antibiotic? Sometimes, it may seem easier to just eat junk food.

Well, before you abandon your good intentions, you may be surprised to know how easy it can be to master the basics. Here is a simple lesson on the difference between natural and organic products to help you navigate your way through health food lingo 101.

Woman purchasing produce

The Basics
When a food is labeled organic, it means that it has been produced, manufactured and handled in accordance with the USDA Organics Products Act. Natural food refers to food that is derived from animals and plants and has not been chemically altered or synthesized in any form. Hence, natural foods are not necessarily organic and organic foods are not necessarily classified as natural.

The preference for one over the other the other comes down to personal standards. Fans of natural foods believe that synthesis of food leads to a loss in nutritional property. Those who prefer organics want food free of pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives.

The demand for organic food is greater than that for natural food because organic food is guaranteed by the government. While an act similar to the Organic Food Product Act has been proposed for natural foods, it has yet to be realized.

Certification Agencies
Most countries have certification bodies for organic foods, the most prominent of which is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Although The International Association of Natural Products (IANPP) champions certifications for naturals foods, it is not a certification body.

Woman reading label

Food Labels
Manufacturers of organic foods must follow specified legal rules and regulations before labeling a food “organic.”
Natural food labels can be used freely by manufacturers.

Health Benefits
There is no evidence to back the belief that organic food is healthier than non-organic food. Preference for organic food is usually based on the idea that it is safer than conventional foods because it has not been exposed to chemicals. However, research suggests that organic food choices can lead to increased antioxidant intake and lower levels of exposure to toxic heavy metals.

People who choose natural foods, on the other hand, do so because they believe that the processing of food decreases its health benefits.

Price
Organic food has a higher price than non-organic food; natural food has a higher price than processed food.

Shelf Life
Organic food has a longer shelf life than natural food. Because natural food is subject to minimal processing, it tends to have a high water content which shortens shelf life.

organic food

Availability
Organic foods are sold in most major supermarkets and can be purchased at specialty stores and through online sources.

Natural foods are available at most stores that sell organic foods. Some stores specialize in natural foods. Many health food stores sell natural food items.

Has this cleared things up at all? Let us know where you stand. Are you Team Natural or Team Organic, or do you not have a pony in this race?

Avoid These Toxic Food Additives

Woman reading food label

“Toxic Waste Nuclear Sludge Chew Bar,” the Hazardously Toxic Candy. According to the package, if you can hold the Pakistani candy import in your mouth for 60 seconds, you’re a “Full Toxic Head. ” If you can hold it in your mouth for 45 seconds, you’re a “Toxic Wannabe.” Thirty seconds and you’re a “Crybaby,” and 15 seconds makes you a “Total Wuss.” And according to the FDA, zero seconds makes you really smart. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration found that the Toxic Waste candy line really was toxic and was recalled from store shelves for excessively high lead content. Who would have guessed?

Although no one could accuse the company of false advertising, not all foods announce their toxic contents on their labels. Here are some toxic food additives that you should beware of.

Artificial Sweeteners
Most of us know that sugar is harmful, but the sweeteners we replace them with may be even worse. The American Heart Association says the best plan of action is to stick with the real stuff, but limit your intake. Men should keep daily sugar consumption to 9 teaspoons while women should aim for no more than five, while children’s sugar intake should be limited to three teaspoons per day.

Natural sugar substances with health benefits are also available, such as stevia, honey, and agave nectar.

The naughty list of artificial sweeteners include aspartame, aceslfame potassium, saccharin, and sugar alcohols. These are often found in sugar free desserts, gum, sugar substitutes, and diet soda.

Apple injected with syringes

Chemical Preservatives
Although some food companies manage to keep food shelf stable with methods such as freezing, drying, and canning, this is not always the case. Twinkies owe their longevity to a host of chemicals.

If you want to determine whether the food items you are buying are being chemicals preserved, look out for butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene(BHT), and propyl gallate. These additives are usually found in cereal, gum, potato chips, soups, meats, oil and are potential carcinogens. Sodium nitrate, found frequently in cured meat, such as bacon, corned beef, and hot dogs, has been linked to pancreatic and stomach cancers.

Unnatural Flavor Enhancers
Artificial flavor enhancers are used when chemically altered and preserved foods need to taste good. As usual, the real stuff is preferable and small amounts of real fats and oils are recommended over large amounts of additives.

Artificial and natural flavors can be found in most things and are non nutritive. Partially hydrogenated oils are usually in products including margarine, baked goods, bread, frosting, and crackers and create trans fats which can raise cholesterol and increase heart disease risk. Olestra, or olean, is an additive often found in”light” chips and can cause gastrointestinal distress.

Woman checking label

Artificial Colors
Attractive as they may be, artificial colors have been linked to tumors, allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. They are often found in foods with little nutritional value to begin with, so it’s probably best to avoid them entirely.

Chemical Stabilizers
Chemical stabilizers help to give texture to processed foods and are often present in food mixes, such as pudding mix. Gums are chemical stabilizers often found in dough, drinks, ice cream, pudding, cheese, and candy and can cause severe allergic reactions. Potassium Bromate is a dough stabilizer which has been linked to cancer.

What have you been doing to avoid toxic food intake? Let us know what toxic foods we should be avoiding!