Over the last few decades, people have become increasingly concerned with what’s in their food. It seems that we’re all becoming ‘foodies’ - people who don’t just think about food for enjoyment or sustenance but who are interested in the details and who set and follow new trends.
More recently, having all of these foodies among us has led to an even bigger trend and that is: what is not in our food. These days, there are many of us who want products with a small number of simple ingredients. In fact, the best-selling, healthy snack bar last year contained as few as five ingredients. In the industry, these types of products are known as ‘clean label’.
Overall, this concept of clean label is not a bad thing. I mean, who wants a product with all sorts of ingredients and ‘additives’ you can’t pronounce? Actually then, the question becomes, ‘why do so many products have multiple, complex-sounding ingredients?’ To answer that question and explore this clean label concept, let’s look at an example. What if I told you about a great new food product that contained things like 2-methylbutyl ethanoate, palmitoleic acid, tryptophan, phytosterols, and food additives and E numbers like E460, E515 potassium sulphate, E101 yellow-orange? What if I then told you that last colouring additive – E101 – can turn your wee bright yellow? Yikes! What a horror show, right?
Umm…well…actually, no. The ingredients I just described are all found, quite naturally, along with over 30 others, in a banana. Yep, that ingredient list, which would keep a typical foodie up at night is right out of the recipe book of Mother Nature!
Now, because you may be curious, those hard-to-pronounce constituents of a banana are just natural fibres, fats, minerals, amino acids etc., and the one that gives you yellow wee is an essential B vitamin, called riboflavin. All of these are often added to foods. So obviously, the banana example shows that just because a food contains almost 40 ingredients, many of which are E numbers and/or confusing chemical names, doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy.
This is an important point when we consider formula foods, which include our Total Diet Replacement (TDR) and Meal Replacement Products (MRPs). If a typical person read the last 20 or so ingredients of these products (the ‘Vitamin and Mineral Mixture’), some of the names would be baffling. There is no need for alarm though, as these are just bioavailable (meaning they can be absorbed and used by the body) forms of vitamins and minerals. For colours, we often use fruit and vegetable extracts from foods like beets and berries. As thickeners, we use fibres found in plants. We also add other functional ingredients like CLA (an essential fatty acid from milk), lecithin (found in soy and other plants) and oligofructose (a prebiotic, found in chicory), which have all been studied for their various health benefits.
So, as you can see, just because a product contains a variety of ingredients, which may have obscure names, does not automatically mean you should give it the cold shoulder. In fact, in the case of the weight loss formula foods we produce, they wouldn’t be nutritionally complete meal replacement products if we didn’t add over 20 essential vitamins and minerals or the essential fatty acids and proteins, all of which are vital to making them healthy formula foods.
This is why we would always advise to do your research on the ingredient lists of food, and make healthy choices which will provide a balanced diet full of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
To find out more about our product range, visit our meals and food webpage. To start your weight-loss journey today, chat to a friendly Consultant!