What is Vanillin?

Have you ever noticed those great big bottles of imitation vanilla flavoring (vanillin) that are cheaper than the little bottles of pure vanilla? How often do you buy the big bottle, thinking it's "okay"? 

How do you feel about ingesting wood pulp or creosote?

Synthetic vanilla flavor can come from many sources, including petroleum and the waste product of paper and pulp mills. Ever smelled the sickening rotten egg smell from a paper mill?  Well, the company has to dispose of the leftover "chemical stew" it creates, so some of it has been bottled and sold to food manufacturers for use as imitation vanilla flavoring.  

Synthetic vanillin is also synthesized in a two-step process from the petrochemical precursors guaiacol and glyoxylic acid.

So, when shopping for food items, watch for the word "vanillin", especially when you shop for chocolate.  You'd be surprised to learn that even some very expensive chocolate products use the cheap substitute, and that some inexpensive candies use the real thing -- read your labels!

If you're one of the many people who think you're allergic to chocolate because you get a headache or other unpleasant effect when you eat it, the culprit could be the fake vanilla, not the chocolate.

Excerpted from: Healthier Food for Busy People, Jane Hersey

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