I am a La Croix addict– hardly a day goes by that I'm not sippin' on that bubbly. Along with that, I'm also a bit of a health nut. La Croix advertises "natural flavors", so I've gone along thinking that my La Croix addiction was totally healthy. At least there weren't any artificial flavors, right? For years I never bothered to see how exactly those "natural flavors" were derived.

Eventually, after drinking other naturally-flavored water that didn't taste all that natural, I started to wonder what exactly I was drinking. What are "natural flavors"? Where do they come from? How exactly are they different from artificial flavors? For the sake of this article, I decided to look at La Croix, Hint, and Perrier. I checked each of the company's websites to see what they had to say about their own natural flavoring and then I compared this info to other sources.

La Croix 

One of the FAQ's on La Croix's website is what exactly makes up the natural flavors, and here is their response: "The flavors are derived from the natural essence oils extracted from the named fruit....There are no sugars or artificial ingredients contained in, nor added to, these extracted flavors."

Hint Water 

Two questions in their FAQ's asked about the flavoring of the water. They explain that "individual essences and extracts are obtained from plant sources (fruits, vegetables, spices), using a variety of ancient culinary techniques that separate the flavors we want from the sugar, color, pulp and other components that we don't." And "other natural flavors" simply refers to natural flavors that are included to help round out the overall taste but are not the flavor labeled on the bottle.

Perrier 

When I headed over to Perrier's website, I came up empty regarding details about how they derived their natural flavors. But from what I gathered from La Croix and Hint's websites, it appeared that "natural flavors" truly weren't that much to worry about. I looked to online sources next.

What the FDA Says

Here's what the FDA has to say about exactly what constitutes a natural flavor. While these flavors come from sources found in nature, they can be chemically altered to create the desired product. So in the same way that artificial flavors are created in a lab, some natural flavors may also be concocted in a lab setting. 

So, as it turns out, there may not be as glaring of a difference between artificial and natural flavors as you may have originally thought. But don't worry– a connection between natural flavors and adverse health affects hasn't been cited. 

Will my investigation into natural flavors keep me from drinking my La Croix? Probably not. With no apparent health risk, I've decided that drinking my flavored, fizzy water in addition to plain ol' H20 shouldn't be a problem. At the end of the day, it's always my responsibility as a consumer to see what each company discloses about their own personal use of natural flavors and then decide for myself which products to drink and not drink.