Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Does Natural Mean?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal described how food companies are often promoting  their products as “natural”. 
I posted last year how my patients often feel somehow safe and reassured by using or eating products that are called “natural”. 

After all, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and cancer are all "natural".

It may surprise you that the Food and Drug Administration has no strict definition of "natural" for foods. The FDA does not feel this question of what is "natural" affects public safety so they have stayed away from this thorny issue. 

This means companies can call almost anything "natural". And that gets people to buy it since so many people think "natural" means "good for you". Oh, how easily people are fooled!

In the meantime, what you are buying and eating or drinking may or may not be particularly good for you, whether it’s called “natural” or not.

And remember high doses of even some vitamins can cause harm. 
Take a look at some facts on vitamin A
And read a little on the pro and cons of natural antioxidants.

4 pieces of advice before getting overly enthusiastic with any particular product:
Check the label carefully.
If you are not sure, consult your friendly registered dietitian, physician nutrition specialist or doctor.
And lastly, "buyer beware" while you enjoy your food.


  1. Once when I was teaching someone brought in a pound cake and placed it in the teacher's lounge with a card that said "all natural ingredients". When I asked her what the ingredients were, she replied: "a dozen eggs, a pound of butter, and 2 cups of sugar" in addition to the flour and other ingredients. I later thought the card should say: Danger, may cause heart attacks and clogged arteries.

  2. Good story. "All natural" does not mean eat this!