Buy this not that: Vanilla extract vs. Vanilla Flavor

The magic word

In this short video health tip, Tony explains that vanilla extract is a healthier option than vanilla flavor. Vanilla, commonly used for baking, should have only two ingredients: vanilla bean and alcohol (used for extracting the vanilla from the bean). However, in the grocery store we often see “vanilla flavor” (fake vanilla) right next to vanilla extract (real vanilla). Manufacturers legally cannot use the word “extract” if it wasn’t extracted using alcohol, so that’s the magic word to look for.

The vanilla flavor contains the controversial ingredient propylene glycol – commonly found in e-cigarettes and anti-freeze and often contains food dyes, which science has repeatedly shown to induce and aggravate behavioral concerns in children and aggravate other health conditions like asthma. 

Sources: Schab D, Trinh N. Do Artificial Food Colors Promote Hyperactivity in Children with Hyperactive Syndromes? A Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004;25:423-34



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