Advertisement

Calling Food Natural Doesn’t Mean it’s Natural

Calling Food Natural Doesn’t Mean it’s Natural

It comes as no surprise that Marilyn Monroe was not a natural blonde. In the 1952 film classic Monkey Business, Ginger Rogers wanted to “pull that blonde hair out by its black roots.”

But did you know your “100% natural” granola bar contains ingredients such as high-maltose corn syrup; not something Mother Nature came up with? Or that your favorite “natural lemonade” contains buytlated hydroxyanisole (BHA), a synthetic preservative that the Department of Health and Human Services Toxicology Program says is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”? So what makes an "all natural" food natural?

Related: Deciphering Health Claims on Food Labels

Most folks -- around 77 percent of us -- assume if something is labeled “natural” it’s close to organic as far as purity goes. But in the U.S., the FDA has no official definition of natural food.  In Canada, foods claiming to be natural must meet specific standards for content and purity, but the only statement the FDA has made about the word natural is to say they haven’t “objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.” That hasn’t stopped companies from misusing the word on all kinds of product packaging.

What can you do?
If you do decide to eat prepared or prepackaged foods, read the ingredients label. It’s only natural to want healthy, tasty foods that you can grab on the go. Our all natural favorites? Apples, pears and oranges, any kind of berry, nuts like walnuts or almonds and nonfat plain Greek yogurt. 

Just say NO to products that try to pull the nylon (wool would be natural) over your eyes.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

Can Side Salads Make You Fat?
Can Side Salads Make You Fat?
Could a side salad make you fat? Possibly . . . if you let that side salad lull you into eating too much. You see, side salads can play tricks on you...
Read More
Can diet and exercise help treat obstructive sleep apnea?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Diet and exercise may be able to help ease symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, especially exercise ...
More Answers
5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats
5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats5 Healthy Swaps for Your Favorite Summer Treats
Ice cream, fruit pie and sweet tea all made the list.
Start Slideshow
Why Should I Cut Down on "Empty Calories?"
Why Should I Cut Down on "Empty Calories?"