2015 Natural Choice Awards

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This year makes it a (gluten-free) baker’s dozen as we honor our winners in the 13th annual Natural Choice Awards. Natural products in 18 categories were voted on by our readers, and we’ve come away with a truly impressive group of winners and runners up, including several multiple-time Natural Choice Award winners. There are some newcomers to the party as well.

Winning companies old and new were all ecstatic to learn of the honor bestowed on them by their retail partners and fans. “We’re delighted that WholeFoods’ Magazine readers have selected our Wellness Formula as the best supplement in the Immune Health category,” said Threshold Enterprises CEO Ira Goldberg. “We want to express our appreciation to our retailer partners for carrying Wellness over the years.”

As makers of Extreme Edge, three-time winner in the Sports Nutrition category, Bluebonnet Nutrition feels they helped health food retailers jump into a thriving category. “We are very thankful that Extreme Edge is being acknowledged again this year since a pure and effective sports line sold exclusively to health food stores has been a long time coming,” said Bob Barrows, vice president of sales and marketing. About the company’s runner up placement in the Supplements: Full Line category, Bluebonnet president Gary Barrows said, “As we approach our 25th anniversary next year, we are honored that our entire line continues to get acknowledged by health food retailers.”

For some, the recognition is a validation of their mission statement. “It is always an honor and pleasure to be selected as a winner by your peers. With now over 750 peer-reviewed published research papers, our desire as a company is to bring credibility to not only the garlic category but to the whole natural foods industry by manufacturing the highest quality products possible supported by credible scientific research to back up the claims,” says Jay Levy, director of sales for Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd., winners in the Heart Health Supplement category.

James Gibbons, president of Nature’s Plus, sees the win as proof of their product’s quality shining through. “Beyond the hype of me-too products, beyond fads and gimmicks, Citrimax by Nature’s Plus is right where it should be…top-ranked among Weight Management supplements and in the forefront of the natural products industry,” he said.

This year’s recipient in the Pet Care category, Nelsons, thanked readers for the honor. “People love their pets and we are happy to provide them with a safe, natural choice to treat pet stress,” says Kate Marshall, Nelsons brand manager.

“At Gaia Herbs, we offer the highest quality herbal supplements by ensuring purity, integrity and potency from seed to shelf,” said Todd King, vice president of marketing at Gaia Herbs, winners in the Herbal Supplement category. King says that the success of his company’s products is due to their uncompromising dedication, “and awards like this reinvigorate us.”

For our Children’s Supplement winner, the award is both personal and comes at a special time for the company. “Nordic Berries is a product that is particularly special to me. Although we are first and foremost a fish oil company, when my children were young and I felt they needed a good multivitamin, we decided to make one ourselves. That’s how Nordic Naturals came to introduce Nordic Berries,” said Joar Opheim, CEO and founder of Nordic Naturals. “As we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, we are gratified by this vote of confidence and will continue to be dedicated to the goal of making the best products on the planet.”

Perhaps best evoking the air of excitement around winning a Natural Choice Award is Cole Jones, general manager of Sunshine Burger, which won in Vegan Food: “We are totally stoked about this award. Sunshine Burger has been in the market for decades so it’s gratifying to be recognized, especially when so many excellent young brands have come along and embraced our philosophy of making tasty food with whole food ingredients. Thanks so much!”

As always, we sincerely thank the readers who took the time to vote. Congrats are in order to Better Life Whole Foods of Springfield, MA, which was selected to receive a cash prize from those that voted. And we also offer hearty congratulations to this year’s terrific group of runners up. Now, on to the awards!
—The Editors

 

SUPPLEMENTS: FULL LINE
MegaFood

Taking the top honor in the Supplements category is MegaFood. The company uses a “slo-food process” featuring real fruits and vegetables to manufacture the whole food vitamins that make up the core of its supplement line. MegaFood ingredients are tested three times throughout the process to ensure they meet strict purity standards. Product collections include Daily Nutrient Booster Powders like Daily C-Protect from organic whole oranges, and Condition Specific formulas that address areas like vision and joint health with herbal and whole food formulations. The company also offers a range of women’s, men’s and children’s multivitamins, as well as a vegan line, minerals, and digestive health and specialty products.
P.O. Box 325, Derry, NH 03038, www.megafood.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: SPORTS NUTRITION
Bluebonnet Nutrition Corporation, Extreme Edge

Make it three Natural Choice Awards for Bluebonnet’s Extreme Edge sports nutrition line, which now features a new and improved formula. Extreme Edge Post Workout muscle building and recovery formula is now free of creatine, and offers a mix of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. The formula is also infused with BCAAs and L-glutamine. The entire line is Certified for Sport by NSF, assuring health food retailers that the line is free of 180+ substances banned by major sports authorities (NFL, MLB & NCAA) in addition to being tested for other potential contaminants. The rest of the line includes Pre Workout, Carbo Load and Whey Protein Isolate in a variety of natural flavors.
12915 Dairy Ashford, Sugar Land, TX 77478, www.bluebonnetnutrition.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
Nature’s Plus, Citrimax

First introduced in 1994, Citrimax from Nature’s Plus is our winner in the Weight Management category. This product represented an important breakthrough in the field of natural support for weight loss, says the company. Citrimax 1000 mg is a standardized, clinically exact extract of Garcinia cambogia. This fruit, indigenous to India, has seen hundreds of years of safe and effective use. Nature’s Plus was founded in 1972, and its other product lines include Source of Life Multivitamins, Animal Parade children’s vitamins, SPIRU-TEIN Energy Shakes, Herbal Actives Standardized herbs and hundreds of other products.
548 Broadhollow Rd., Melville, NY 11747, www.naturesplus.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: HEART HEALTH
Wakunaga of America Co., Kyolic

With over 750 peer-reviewed research articles behind it, Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract from Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd., looms very large in the heart health category. Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract is featured as the key ingredient in the Kyolic line of products, which includes nearly two dozen formulas, from Kyolic 100: Cardiovascular—Original Formula to specialty formulas like Kyolic 109: Blood Pressure—Nattokinase. The extract is naturally processed in a way that concentrates the medicinal essence of organically grown garlic, in compliance with good manufacturing practices (GMPs). The natural aging process removes pungent garlic odor, enhances the nutritional value of garlic and makes it gentle on the stomach.
23501 Madero, Mission Viejo, CA 92691, www.kyolic.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: BONE/JOINT HEALTH
NeoCell Corp., Super Collagen

NeoCell’s Super Collagen line delivers collagen types 1 and 3, which together represent 90% of the body’s collagen content and are the primary collagens found in skin, hair, nails, ligaments, tendons, bones and muscles. Collagen types 1 and 3 provide amino acids needed to replenish the body’s supply of collagen. Super Collagen products contain pure, pharmaceutical grade, hydrolyzed collagen that can help build and support the bone matrix and repair connective tissues for improved elasticity and circulation, among other benefits. The collagen’s 3,000 Dalton molecular weight allows for an absorption rate of 90% and maximum bioavailability, according to the company.
17500 Gillette Ave., Irvine, CA 92614, www.neocell.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: IMMUNE HEALTH
Source Naturals, Wellness Formula

Wellness Formula from Source Naturals, a Threshold Enterprises brand, came out on top in the Immune Health group this year. The product combines over 30 vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and time-tested herbs in one formula. The company says Wellness Formula goes beyond single-action products to provide comprehensive support for the multiple systems involved in immune health. The formula delivers antioxidant defense, stress support, and support for the immune and respiratory systems.
23 Janis Way, Scotts Valley, CA 95066, www.sourcenaturals.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: DIGESTIVE HEALTH
Renew Life, Ultimate Flora

Taking home the trophy in the Digestive Health category is the Ultimate Flora line from Renew Life. These natural, high-potency probiotic supplements are formulated to help replenish good bacteria in the digestive tract. Taken daily, the company says Ultimate Flora probiotics can help promote a healthy digestive system and restore regularity. Products are available in the following categories: Daily Support, Extra Strength, Just for Women, On the Go and Specialty Formulas. Specific products include Ultimate Flora Critical Care, Kids Probiotic and Women’s Complete Probiotic.
198 Palm Harbor Blvd. S., Palm Harbor, FL 34683, www.renewlife.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: HERBS
Gaia Herbs, Turmeric Supreme

In the herbal kingdom, Gaia Herbs reigns supreme in 2015. The company’s winning Turmeric Supreme line delivers Curcumin Synergy with guaranteed levels of curcumins and black pepper to aid absorption. The line contains formulas such as Turmeric Supreme: Extra Strength and new Turmeric Supreme: Immune A.S.A.P., which features additional herbs like echinacea, elderberry and blue vervain. Turmeric has been valued in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, and today science has found that the curcumins in turmeric support healthy inflammatory function.
101 Gaia Herbs Dr., Brevard, NC 28712, www.gaiaherbs.com

 

SUPPLEMENTS: CHILDREN’S
Nordic Naturals, Nordic Berries

This is the second Natural Choice award for Nordic Berries, available from Nordic Naturals. Nordic Berries are chewable, pectin-based multivitamins designed for ages 2+. They provide nutrients, minerals and antioxidants such as zinc and vitamins A, B, C, D3 and E. The gummies are available in 120 and 200 count bottles, and contain no artificial coloring, flavoring or preservatives. According to the company, these easy-to-chew multis “capture the delicious sweet and sour citrus taste of the Norwegian cloudberries,” and are an ideal companion to the company’s fish-based supplements.
111 Jennings Dr., Watsonville, CA 95076, www.nordicnaturals.com

 

FOOD: VEGAN
Sunshine Burger, Veggie Burgers

Certified Organic veggie burgers from Sunshine Burger top this year’s Vegan category. The line is also Non-GMO Project Verified and free of gluten, wheat, soy, nuts, dairy, corn and eggs. The burgers are prebaked and browned, and made with sunflower kernels and brown rice. Seven flavors are now available, including new Shiitake Mushroom featuring full mushroom flavor and quinoa. Each burger offers 7–10 grams of plant-based protein along with amino acids and no trans fat or cholesterol.
701 Jones Ave., Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, www.sunshineburger.com

 

FOOD: BEVERAGE
Millennium Products, GT’s Kombucha

A winner in the Beverage category for the eighth time, GT’s Kombucha is now celebrating 20 years of handcrafted, small batch brewing in Los Angeles. These raw, live kombucha drinks are USDA-certified organic, and contain probiotic strains like B. coagulans and S. boulardii. They also contain antioxidants and enzymes intended to “nourish your body from the inside out.” The company offers four lines of kombucha: Enlightened Kombucha, Enlightened Synergy, Classic Kombucha and Classic Synergy. Each line has its own flavors, such as Cosmic Cranberry, Mystic Mango, Citrus and Original.
P.O. Box 2352, Beverly Hills, CA 90213, www.synergydrinks.com

 

FOOD: NUTRITION BAR
Quest Nutrition, Quest Protein Bars

Quest Protein Bars from Quest Nutrition each deliver 20 g of protein and few net carbs. The carbs that are present come from nuts, not sugar. The protein blend in each bar combines whey protein isolate and milk protein isolate. The bars feature natural sweeteners like lo han guo, stevia and erythritol, and contain prebiotic fiber in the form of plant-based isomalto-oligosaccharides. The ingredients included in the wide range of Quest Bar flavors are manufactured by the company from scratch, like the chocolate crumbles in Cookies & Cream and the white chocolate chunks in White Chocolate Raspberry.
2233 El Segundo Blvd., El Segundo, CA, 90245, www.questnutrition.com

 

FOOD: ORGANIC
Bragg, Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar from Bragg Live Food Products is made from the finest organically grown apples. Available in 16 oz, 32 oz and gallon jug sizes, Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar can be used to add flavor to salads, vegetables and most other foods. It’s even tasty sprinkled over popcorn, says the company. Apple Cider Vinegar is also the main ingredient in the company’s new line of pre-mixed All Natural Drinks, with flavors like Apple Cinnamon and Ginger Spice and Limeade.
Box 7, Santa Barbara, CA 93102, www.bragg.com

 

FOOD: SENSITIVE DIETS
Udi’s, Breads

Gluten Free Breads from Udi’s come in five varieties: White Sandwich Bread, Whole Grain, Cinnamon Raisin, Omega Flax & Fiber and Millet-Chia. Each of these sliced breads is wheat, dairy, soy and nut free, and is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. They are also certified kosher by Scroll K/Vaad Hakashrus of Denver. The White Sandwich Bread is 70 calories per slice, and provides 1.5 g of protein and only 11 g of total carbs. The company focused on making the breads light and fluffy, and hopes that fans experience “love at first bite” when they choose these breads.
1600 Pearl St., Ste. 300, Boulder, CO 80302, www.udisglutenfree.com

 

HABA: PERSONAL CARE
Xlear Inc., Spry Toothpastes

Spry toothpastes are part of Xlear’s Spry Dental Defense System that also includes gum, mints, oral rinses, tooth gels, floss and a moisturizing mouth spray, all sweetened exclusively with xylitol. Clinical studies have shown xylitol to have oral health benefits, according to the company. These toothpastes produce a foamy, clean feeling, and help whiten teeth by removing surface stains. Cinnamon, Peppermint, Spearmint and Cool Mint flavors are available. The toothpastes are offered with and without fluoride to cater to customer preference.
723 S. Auto Mall Dr., American Fork, UT 84003, www.xlear.com

 

HABA: HAIR CARE
Aubrey Organics, Hair Care Line

Aubrey Organics has hair care solutions enriched with botanical extracts, plant butters, vitamins and proteins for every type of hair. The company offers all-natural shampoos, conditioners and other hair products in four categories: Normal Hair, Dry Hair, Oily Hair and Special Care. Options include Chamomile Luxurious Shampoo and Conditioner in the Normal Hair category, and Green Tea Shampoo and Finishing Rinse for Oily Hair. Aubrey shampoos are free of sulfates and parabens. The company’s hair care products are certified cruelty free by the Leaping Bunny Program, and are all either vegetarian- or vegan-friendly.
5046 W. Linebaugh Ave., Tampa, FL 33624, www.aubrey-organics.com

 

HABA: SKIN CARE
Nubian Heritage, African Black Soap

The African Black Soap Collection from Nubian Heritage is a first time winner in Skin Care. Black soap has been used for centuries in Africa to help reduce skin imperfections and soothe irritations. Nubian Heritage products are created in a traditional way, with a recipe that blends palm ash, plantain peel, tamarind extract, aloe vera, vitamin E, certified organic shea butter and gluten-free oats. The line includes Bar Soap, Body Wash, Body Lotion, Hand Cream and Infused Butters. The company got its start as a street vendor in Harlem, and today it seeks to help alleviate poverty by investing in women’s shea butter cooperatives in Ghana.
11 Ranick Dr. S., Amityville, NY 11701, www.nubianheritage.com

 

PET CARE
Nelsons, Rescue Remedy for Pets

Bach RESCUE Remedy Pet from Nelsons is veterinarian recommended. The Rescue Pet Dropper is a natural way to treat pet anxiety caused by travel, separation, new surroundings, loud noises and other behavioral issues linked with stress. Pet parents simply add four drops to their pet’s food, water bowl or treat. The safe, gentle, alcohol-free formula can also be rubbed onto a pet’s ear, nose or paw. The Dropper is available in 10 or 20 ml sizes.
21 High St., Ste. 302, North Andover, MA 01845, www.nelsonsnaturalworld.com

Runners Up
SUPPLEMENTS, FULL LINE:
Bluebonnet Nutrition Corp.

SUPPLEMENTS, SPORTS NUTRITION: PlantFusion, Phood

SUPPLEMENTS, WEIGHT MANAGEMENT:
Source Naturals, Garcinia 1000

SUPPLEMENTS, HEART HEALTH: Michael’s Naturopathic Programs, Blood Pressure Factors

SUPPLEMENTS, BONE/JOINT HEALTH: Garden of Life, Vitamin Code Calcium

SUPPLEMENTS, IMMUNE HEALTH:
Fungi Perfecti/Host Defense, MycoShield

SUPPLEMENTS, DIGESTIVE HEALTH: Enzymedica, Digest Gold

SUPPLEMENTS, HERBS:
Solaray (full line); Herb Pharm (full line)

SUPPLEMENTS, CHILDREN’S:
Nature’s Plus, Animal Parade

FOOD, ORGANIC:
Food for Life, Ezekiel Bread

FOOD, VEGAN:
Orgain, Shakes

FOOD, SENSITIVE DIETS:
Bob’s Red Mill, Gluten-Free Products

FOOD, NUTRITION BAR: KIND, Bars

FOOD, BEVERAGE:
Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

HABA, SKINCARE:
Andalou Naturals, Toning Refresher

HABA, HAIRCARE: Avalon Organics, Biotin Shampoo; Acure Organics, Hair Care Products

HABA, PERSONAL CARE:
Desert Essence, Toothpaste

 

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, April 2015