As The Ingredient Guru I often get asked to “take a look” at a variety of products. Especially if they have good buzzwords on the label.
Recently I was given a bottle of Zeal by Zurvita*. The person who gave it to me wanted my opinion; she was very excited about the product, and takes it every day, in part because of the label statements. “Gluten free”, “vegan”, “natural ingredients”, “complete nutrition”, “no artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives”, and “an excellent source of fiber”.
It's important to note that products like these often do not have gluten. That’s because gluten is found in wheat, barley, and other glutenous grain products. The gluten free statement is merely a marketing ploy to capitalize on the desire of a growing number of people to eat gluten free.
After a review of the ingredients I will not be trying this product. Here's why:
Caffeine: The label does not disclose how much caffeine is in a serving but it contains several sources. Guarana seed powder and yerba mate. The product also has green tea extract however the website says, “Green tea used in Zeal is standardized at 50% EGCG content and is considered decaffeinated because when it is processed to contain a high level of antioxidants (EGCG), the amount of naturally occurring caffeine is reduced” the guarana and yerba mate most likely do provide caffeine.
Crystalline fructose: This is essentially dehydrated high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is 55% fructose by volume while crystalline fructose is 90% fructose by volume. Excessive fructose consumption is bad for the liver.
Natural flavors: As we've discussed before, the term natural doesn't really mean much and “natural” flavors might not be everything they're cracked up to be.
A personal frustration with this product is how it is labeled. The ingredients are extremely small red/orange print on a brown background. This makes it very difficult to read, a choice that I have to believe is deliberate on the part of the manufacturer. I find it deceptive when manufacturers label with this type of print or grey print on a dark background. Anytime the label is not clear and easy to read I have to wonder what they are hiding.
While there are a number of apparently clean ingredients in this product, it is not without negative ingredients as discussed above. The use of buzzwords on the label is something called front of package labeling and is often used by companies to distract consumers from looking further into the ingredients. Keep this in mind when reading the label and looking at new-to-you products. Just because the label says it's a good choice doesn't always mean that it's something you want to consume.
Ed note: Zurvita is a network marketing, or MLM, company. This article is does not address the “business” of Zurvita and is not meant to be construed as for or against these types of opportunities. It is simply a discussion of this one product that the company produces.