Saturday, August 28, 2010

Artificial food coloring and your health

cotton candy cupcakesImage by seelensturm via Flickr
Think artificial food coloring and you probably think of sugary junk foods  like brightly colored cotton candy, or the blazing red color of pop drinks like fruit punch, orange soda and maThinny other highly processed foods that contain long lists of chemicals in addition to food coloring.

 But would you think that meats and  fish such as salmon, or fruits such as oranges may also be full of coloring? Even diet savvy moms are surprised to know that some of the least expected foods also contain these chemicals merely to increase their shelf appeal.

What are food colorings and how do they affect your health?

Food colorings - what are they?

Food coloring are often made of petroleum and coal tar which are presently causing concern to many today as to their safety in foods.  Others contain "natural" products which are colorants that are derived from natural sources. The government allows labeling of "natural" or "artificial" depending on the source of the colorings.

Generally, artificial food coloring have been associated with ADHD, cancers and thyroid and tumors in rats.  The amazomg thing is why are these things still in foods? Caveat emptor.

Below, is a list of commonly used food colorings:

Blue #1 - found in beverages, fruit cocktails candy and baked items.  Causes cancer in  mice.

Red #3 - is found in candysuch as peppermints, fuit loops.  Also is found in baked goods.  Has been found to cause thyroid cancer in animals.

Yellow #6 - Is found in sausages, candy, and baked goods.  Is also associated with tumor formation and allergies.

Red #40 - Can cause allergies in sensitive people along with hyperactivity in children.

What should you do?

It is really imperative to read the labels. Avoid the highly salted, sugary and fats in processed foods by limiting your family's consumption of them. Research your brand of produce to ensure that colors aren't being injected in to your family's produce. Buy organic when possible. Oh, and remember, if your fuits have a thick skin, like watermelon, cantalope, oranges, grapefruit, etc. - it isn't necesesary to buy the organic fruit. Conventional is fine -  save yourself a few pennies.

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