After an overwhelming amount of requests to review Arbonne, I’ve finally done it. I wanted to like Arbonne, which is why I think it took me so long to look at the ingredients. Their branding lends to the idea that they truly are “all natural” – a term that has all but lost its meaning. And it’s just that – branding. Not reality. It isn’t the truth and it’s not very transparent.
I want people who are using or selling these products to truly know what’s in them. I want them to know about the less than healthy ingredients. Most people who are introduced to these things just aren’t aware. They don’t know that pea protein is a subpar protein source, they don’t know that rice syrup contains arsenic, they don’t know that sunflower oil is highly inflammatory. I do these reviews because I want to educate people on what they’re putting into their bodies. It may be marketed as healthy, but let’s take a look at the ingredients so you can actually get an unbiased review of Arbonne.
Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, sunflower oil, natural vanilla flavor, corn starch, inulin, xanthan gum, flax seed, stevia leaf extract, gum acacia, guar gum.
Arbonne Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, cocoa powder, natural chocolate flavor, sunflower oil, corn starch, inulin, xanthan gum, stevia leaf extract, flax seed, gum acacia, guar gum.
brown rice syrup, brown rice protein, pumpkin seeds, water, crisp rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, calcium carbonate), pea protein isolate, alkalized cocoa, chicory fiber, oats, dates, cocoa butter, glycerin, natural flavors, quinoa, sunflower lecithin, sea salt.
water, Arbonne Protein Matrix (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, natural chocolate avor, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, corn starch, inulin, cellulose gum and gel, locust bean gum, calcium carbonate, sodium chloride, potassium citrate, sodium citrate, magnesium oxide, ax seed, stevia extract, ascorbic acid, coenzyme Q10, alfalfa, kelp, ginseng, d-alpha tocopherol acetate, sodium selenate, biotin, niacinamide, retinyl palmitate, d-calcium pantothenate, potassium iodide, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, manganese sulfate, folic acid, ergocalciferol, pyridoxine hydrochloride, ribo avin, thiamine hydrochloride, sodium molybdate, cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12), chromium chloride.
I just got off the phone with Arbonne customer service. It took quite a while to get an actual human on the phone.
“Hi! Are Arbonne products certified GMO free?”
The woman, who was very nice, clearly had no idea what I was talking about. She asked which products I was looking at at. I told her I was wondering if all of them were GMO free.
“Are you looking at the 30 day supply?”
“No, I just want to know if all of the products are certified GMO free. Like the ready to drink chocolate shake. It has corn in it. Is the corn GMO free?”
It tuns out she was pulling up the page to that particular product.
“It’s vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and all natural.”
I waited. After it was clear she wasn’t going to say anything else, I asked again. Is it GMO free?
At this point I was put on hold for a bit.
She came back and said “Our products are GMO free.”
To which I asked “Great! Are they certified GMO free?”
“I don’t know.”
So in short, I’m not buying that these products are actually genetically modified free. If they were, this information would be readily available on their website. This is something they would actively promote, because it’s a huge selling point. I couldn’t find the GMO free certification anywhere on their website. And if customer service doesn’t even know what I’m talking about when I ask that question…that’s not a good sign.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is naturally found in food. This is a huge problem. Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized form of folate that the body is unable to properly absorb or utilize.
In fact, folic acid supplementation has even been linked to cancer.
“…in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer. “The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England.”
Another study out of Chile linked folic acid supplementation with an increased risk of colon cancer.
And yet another study out of Norway linked folic acid supplementation with a 21% increase in lung caner.
“Folic acid and B12 supplementation was associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes.”
While folate is a necessary part of a balanced diet, folic acid has actually been linked to increased rates of cancer (another source for ya).
Pea Protein and Rice Protein
First, let’s consider how protein rich peas and rice are…or aren’t. 100 grams of peas contains 5.4 grams of protein. 100 grams of rice contains 2.8 grams of protein. 100 grams of whey contains 78.13 grams of protein. Of course, we’re talking average here. This isn’t exact. But even so, whey is clearly the higher source of protein.
Not only that, but pea protein is lacking in amino acids, namely cysteine and methionine. This makes it a poor protein source. Rice in general (but specifically as a protein source) is difficult to digest, particularly brown rice. It’s also high in phytic acid, which prevents the absorption of minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium, etc.
Natural Vanilla Flavor
I take issue with anything listed as “natural flavors.” Because chances are, it’s not all that natural. Hell, even monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be masquerading as a natural flavor. The labeling is loosely regulated. In Food Rules: A Doctor’s Guide To Healthy Eating, Dr. Shanahan discusses a study in which 95% of ingredients listed as “natural flavor” contained MSG.
As for “natural” vanilla flavor, it could even be secretions from a beaver’s butt. Beavers secrete castoreum, which smells and tastes remarkably similar to vanilla.
Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine…Still concerned you’re chowing down on beaver-bum goop? Because of its FDA label, in some cases, manufacturers don’t have to list castoreum on the ingredient list and may instead refer to it as “natural flavoring.” Yum. Source
I’m not saying Arbonne definitely uses beaver butts in their products, but without transparency and truth in labeling, we can’t be entirely sure.
Corn starch is a processed food additive usually derived from genetically modified corn. Corn starch is a highly processed carbohydrate, it contains no nutritional value and packs roughly 7 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon.
It can also be aggravating to the digestive tract, particularly if you’re consuming corn starch on a regular basis. Overall, I’m most concerned with the possibility that the corn is genetically modified. Read more about the detriments of genetically modified corn here and here.
Brown Rice Syrup
When consuming sweeteners, I prefer to opt for healthy versions with nutritional benefits, like raw honey. Brown rice syrup, however, has no nutritional benefits. It’s also high on the glycemic index, meaning it can raise your blood sugar rapidly.
One study even found that products sweetened with rice syrup had twenty to thirty times the amount of arsenic than those not sweetened with rice syrup.
While not as bad as corn, canola or soy oils, sunflower oil still isn’t my favorite. Consumed once in a while is fine, but daily in a protein shake or snack bar? That’s when this seemingly innocuous oil becomes an issue. Sunflower oil is extremely inflammatory. We know that there needs to be a proper balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. An abundance of omega-6 fats lead to inflammation (which has been linked to everything from cancer to heart disease).
It’s difficult to determine what kind of sunflower oil Arbonne is using exactly, but let’s assume it’s similar to this. The omega-3 content would be around 27mg and the omega-6 content 5374mg per tablespoon! That’s an incredibly inflammatory oil.
And quickly, I want to address Arbonne’s Green Balance product. Is it a healthy product? Yes. It has some great ingredients, excluding the quinoa which has naturally occurring phytates, which bind to minerals and prevent them from being absorbed. What I can’t stand is the $50 price tag for one month’s supply. Who can afford that? And why should they? There are even healthier options for cheaper. For example, I use the Garden of Life raw + organic green superfood powder, which is about the same price for two months!
In conclusion, I’ve definitely seen worse products. But I’ve also seen a lot better. The reason I do these reviews is because I want people to know what they’re buying and eating. I want them to know the science behind the ingredients. I want to help people. I want them to know what they’re spending their hard earned money on.
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