I am sure you’ll agree with me that processed foods are less than ideal for our health? And I am going to take this one step further and say that for menopausal women, they could be even worse. Especially if you’ve been eating them for a while.
In short, “Frankenfoods” mess with our hormonal balance. And at menopause we need to be in the best possible balance to help avoid and minimise those dreaded menopausal symptoms.
Answer this question: Have you looked at the ingredients on a food label lately? How about a “processed” food label; like famous brands of biscuits, cereals, or so-called healthy snack foods?
Do you have those ingredients in your house? Do you even know what all of those ingredients are?
There are a ton of artificial, chemical, and "rubbish" ingredients in foods these days. If you see an ingredient called "artificial flavour," what exactly is it?
For the most part, it’s a secret! This is a fact! Big food companies don’t want their proprietary flavours to be known, so they’re allowed to state “artificial flavour” and leave the details out.
That alone is cause for concern.
But even more concerning is what artificial flavours represent when they're in your food. And the possible impact on your health.
So here’s the real deal.
Why use "artificial flavours' in a product?
When you make an apple muffin at home, what gives it the apple flavour?
Apples of course! Like real, whole, chopped or shredded apples or applesauce.
But, let’s say you’re a big food company and you’re making thousands of apple muffins every day. In a factory. On an assembly line.
How would you process the huge amount of apples that are to be chopped, grated or made into applesauce? Would you have a separate "Apple Room" where all the apple processing happens? What if one batch is slightly riper, or tastes slightly different from the rest? Will your customers notice a different taste?
Apples are perishable - they go bad. So how would you guarantee the apples won't go bad? (Remember the saying "it only takes one bad apple?").
So then, what if you can have an apple flavour that tastes better than using real apples? Something that makes people want to keep buying them every week. It's true - some of the artificial flavours are engineered to give an even better taste than the real food!
Companies will often opt for the easier and more profitable option like artificial flavours.
Artificial flavours last longer and will be virtually identical batch after batch. In the apple muffin example, artificial flavours used to make an apple muffin are ready to go, so you don't need to peel, cut, or worry about apples going brown, or that they're not tasting "apple-y" enough.
And it’s way cheaper than using real, whole apples.
So if the package says "flavoured" in the description, then the flavour is artificial. For example, "apple muffin" contains at least some apple. But, "apple flavoured muffin" contains artificial flavour and no apple.
Safety of artificial flavours
While there are some flavours banned for use in many countries, other countries allow them.
There is an approved list of flavours that are accepted to be safe, and are used by the food industry. They are considered GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.”
Even if they are 100% safe to ingest, the mere fact that an artificial flavour is in food makes it an artificial food. It's not a real, whole food. Having an artificial flavour as an ingredient almost defines that food to be a processed, "food-like product." Sometimes referred to as "junk."
Artificial flavours in food indicate that the food, regardless of the marketing, or health claims, is not a healthy choice.
Big food companies use artificial flavours to reduce costs, make the manufacturing process simpler, reduce waste and even enhance flavour way beyond what the natural ingredient would taste like.
They are not added to improve the “healthfulness” or nutrition of the food.
Artificial flavours in the ingredient list indicate that the food is not going to optimize your health. These processed foods are most certainly “junk.”
Don’t buy them. Make this easy recipe instead.
And get into your pantry and have a read of those labels! If you’re really brave, get out a big black bag and throw those artificial foods away. 😊
Recipe (All-natural): Apple Muffins
1 cup quick oats, uncooked
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup chopped apples
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 175C.
In a large bowl, mix the quick oats and cinnamon. Add the quinoa and mix again. Now add maple syrup, apples and eggs, and mix until just combined.
Place 12 muffin liners into a muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup about ⅔ of the way
Before baking, sprinkle each muffin with a touch of cinnamon for extra (natural) flavour.
Place in oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes.
Serve & enjoy!
Download a copy of the recipe here
Click below to listen to a podcast episode I was interviewed for, about building resilience and my journey to being a Health Coach