WHAT DOES NATURAL FLAVOR REALLY MEAN? WE EXPLAIN.
AUTHOR: Dr Cliff Harvey
What is a natural flavor?
The definition of ‘natural’ for flavoring is a little vague. Generally, it refers to materials used to provide flavor to other foods or supplements that are obtained from plants or animals using processes normally used in the preparation of food.
How are natural flavors produced?
To be called ‘natural’, flavors must be produced from plants or animal products (i.e. from ‘nature’) using methods that are typically used to produce foods such as heating, roasting, fermenting or other enzyme-based processes. Even if a flavor is derived from a natural (or for example, organic) ingredient (such as organic vanilla) it must be listed as a natural flavor if it is extracted or processed and used in a way that flavors another food, rather than being integral to the food itself.
What is the quality of the flavors that Nuzest use?
The flavors used at Nuzest are all-natural (derived from natural ingredients), and are extracted from the fruit or plant, such as vanilla bean, and concentrated into a liquid form and then sprayed into a carrier to be put into a powdered product. The carriers are either non-GMO rice or corn-based starch. The flavors are vegan, non-GMO, and free from all common allergens including all gluten-grains, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soy, milk/dairy, and tree nuts.
How much flavor is used?
In Clean Lean Protein and other Nuzest products, there are < 2g of total flavor and sweetener per serve. This means that in any given product, there is also only an incidental amount of starch added as part of the flavor complex. For example, in Clean Lean Protein (Vanilla), there is only 1g of total carbohydrate (and no sugar).
Are there any health effects of the natural flavors in Clean Lean Protein?
The flavors are naturally derived and so offer no health effects distinct from the original foods (like vanilla, cocoa etc.), besides, the amounts added are so small as to offer little to no effect on the body. The tiny amounts of carbohydrate similarly have no meaningful effect on insulin, blood sugar, or any other process in the body and are completely safe even for people with metabolic disorder and diabetes.
What about thaumatin? What is it… and is it safe?
Thaumatins are sweet-tasting proteins from the West African Katemfe fruit (Thaumatococcus daniellii Bennett). They are used as a naturally-derived sweetener and flavor modifier.
No adverse effects have been observed from thaumatin in the animal and human studies of thaumatin, including no allergic sensitization, and no negative effects, mutagenic potential, or teratogenic effects even at high doses (up to 2000 mg per kg of bodyweight).1
The European Safety Authority in its report Scientific Opinion on the Safety and Efficacy of thaumatin for all animal species states that usual doses of thaumatin protein are safe for all animal species “with a considerable margin of safety” and that because thaumatins are highly digestible proteins “there are no concerns for consumer safety.”2
I notice some Nuzest products also use Stevia, is that also safe?
Stevia is the name for the sweet-tasting shrub Stevia rebaudiana, originally native to Paraguay and Brazil in South America. This plant has been used as a food and medicine for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní people and more widely for the last several hundred years in both Brazil and Paraguay. Interestingly, there have been no adverse effects recorded over these many hundreds of years of use by Paraguayans.3 The sweet-tasting stevia compounds are completely metabolized and don’t accumulate in the body, and they are not teratogenic, mutagenic or carcinogenic and cause no acute and subacute toxicity.3-7 Reviews of the research show that even at extremely high doses stevia “does not pose a risk of genetic damage following human consumption”.7