Natural Products Expo West is the health and nutrition industries trend-setting tradeshow held in Anaheim California every year. This invite-only event is packed with vitamin and supplement companies, natural products for skin and beauty, business solutions, hot food products, new food and beverage products, basically anything marketed as natural and healthy. With over 3100 exhibitors it was big. Over 80,000 attendees over the 4 days, people fueled up with samples and more samples.
The June Superfoods team dawned our badges and hit the floor, sampling new and old health products, learning from different companies, listening to motivated sales pitches, and meeting very inspiring young entrepreneurs. Along the way, we fueled up on snack bars, new health sports drinks, different nut milks, and more snack bars. So after leaving ungrounded with a sugar headache every day, we felt more like we had been to the local fair than a health and wellness trade-show. We found the majority of the natural products were high in sugar and if not they were extra sweet from xylitol, a new trendy “plant-based” sweetener.
The natural sugar revolution is real and it has a firm foothold in the natural products market. It's like in the 90’s when they decided fat was bad and just loaded all of our favourite products with more carbs and refined sugars. Well now they have decided gluten and dairy are bad, and for some, there are definitely legitimate allergies, but once again the food industry has loaded products with sugars and carbs.
One may argue, the sugars are natural, and they are; agave, honey, dates, dried fruits. Unfortunately, our bodies still process this as sugar. Yes, 15 grams of sugar in the form of rice syrup and dates with nuts and superfoods is better than 15 grams of refined sugar with white flour, but it is still sugar and your physiological reaction is still the same.
Unfortunately, we can’t all unlearn the new daily sugar recommendations from the World Health Organization; women 25 grams of sugar/day, men 35 grams/day, and 12-15 grams for kids 2-12. That snack bar regardless of how natural, is basically half the recommended sugar for the day. Although we always read ingredients, it’s even more important with the excess of new products on the shelves to start looking at grams of sugar. It will surprise you. Especially if it’s gluten and dairy free.
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