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Artificial Dyes Can Be Harmful to Your Health

In Europe, six tested dyes—including Yellow No. 5 and Red No. 40, which have been linked to ADHD and hyperactivity in children—were banned from use in products for infants and children, and warning labels were applied to other products that contained them.

Despite this move, the FDA here in the U.S. has continued to allow food manufacturers to add these, as well as to their products. See the list below:

Though it is important to point out that while there is mounting evidence that these FDA-approved dyes are harmful to our health, more research is needed to draw universal, conclusive information on the hows and whys. Because other additives show up in our food and personal care products, maybe artificial dyes aren’t completely to blame. But, they have zero nutritional value or purpose, and may certainly contribute to health and behavioral issues. They also help food manufacturers continue to trick us into believing their food products are healthier, fresher, or more appealing than they really are. My motto will always be “better safe than sorry,” and I will always strive not to be a guinea pig for these researchers.

How To Avoid Artificial Food Dyes:  Your best defense is to read all labels. Stick to limited-ingredient, unprocessed, or fresh foods as much as possible. The same goes for any vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.

Don’t forget about your skin, either. Whatever you put on it—whether it’s makeup, soap, or lotion, it—and whatever chemicals it contains—will be absorbed into your skin. Stick with natural beauty and personal care products, which tend to forgo harmful dyes and chemicals.

Natural Alternatives: While brightly-colored food isn’t necessary, it is fun. So, if you are looking to add some festive color to something, why not try a natural, clean alternative? RED: Look to beet or pomegranate juice, or try a premade beetroot powder. But be wary—powders may be loaded with sugar, so be sure to read your labels. ORANGE and YELLOW: Try adding carrots, carrot juice, pumpkin, or paprika to a recipe to boost its orange color, and for yellow, turn to your spice cabinet. Both turmeric and saffron will do the trick. GREEN: Cooking down leafy vegetables, like spinach or parsley, or adding a bit of liquid chlorophyll, are both excellent alternatives for green food coloring. If you have matcha tea powder on hand, that will work well, too. PURPLE and BLUE: Boil down some red cabbage for an easy purple, or cook it up with some baking soda to make blue. BROWN and darker colors: Here’s a tasty alternative to a mish-mash of chemical dyes: unsweetened cocoa powder. You can also combine red and green for a deep dark brown without the chocolate taste.

For more tips and real recipes for making your own natural food dyes, check out these links:


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