While grocery shopping this week, Meghan pointed to a can of Campbell’s soup and declared, “Look, Mommy! Dora soup!” She doesn’t even watch Dora the Explorer, but she knows who she is because she’s plastered all over her underwear. Dora and Elmo. Apparently they don’t make plain underwear anymore, they must have some television character. Anyway, I digress.
It occurred to me that so much food on our supermarket shelves is marketed to children. It also occurred to me how dangerous that is. Kids are attracted to labels that have cartoon characters on them. Kids are also attracted to bright, colorful foods. The food companies know this, and that is why a good chunk of foods that are made specifically for children are loaded with artificial food dyes.
Here’s the problem. Those artificial food dyes that make the food so pretty to look at and appealing to the younger crowd can cause serious health risks. Most parents just think they are making their kids happy . They want the colorful foods. What’s the big deal? They don’t understand the dangers that come with consuming artificial food dyes.
Studies have shown that artificial food dyes are associated with the following conditions:
1. Cancer, including brain tumors
2. Allergies, asthma, and sensitivities
3. Behavioral issues, hyperactivity, and ADHD
4. Decreased cognitive function, lowered IQ
I don’t know about you, but those are all things I hope I can help my child avoid. So what can we do? Educate ourselves. Here’s a look at the specific food dyes you will find in numerous foods throughout America and their proven effects:
Yellow #5: hyperactivity, eczema/hives, aggressive/violent behavior, asthma, irritability, sleep disturbances/insomnia, increased susceptibility to infection
Yellow #6: hyperactivity, eczema/hives, asthma,
Red #40: hyperactivity
Red #3: Tumors, neurochemical and behavioral effects
Source: Smart Guide to Food Dyes
Other food dyes, like Blue #1 and Green #3 have suggested links to cancer, hyperactivity, and more, but have not yet been proven conclusively.
As a consumer and parent, you need to be aware of what foods you are bringing into your home. You would be surprised at the number of foods (especially processed foods) that contain artificial food dyes.
You need to become a label reader. Steer clear of foods with ingredients that have a color followed by a number. You can pretty much assume any food that has an unusually bright red, green, yellow, or blue color is made that way with an artificial dye. But it’s not just the bright and colorful foods that have dyes. That would be too easy, right? Some more muted-toned foods that have food dyes include: Honeycomb cereal, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Hostess Twinkees, Doritos, Hamburger Helper, Sun Chips, and Pillsbury vanilla frosting.
Just looking at that list above, you see that it’s in processed foods aisle where you are going to find most of these artificial food dyes. Just by limiting or eliminating processed foods from your diet, you will be greatly reducing your chances of consuming artificial food dyes.
What makes me most sad is that well-meaning parents are unknowingly causing health problems for their children by feeding them foods with artificial food dyes everyday. Will you please help another parent get educated about food dyes by passing this article along? My mission is to feed my family the most natural, nutritious foods I possibly can and I want to help other parents do the same thing.
On another note, thanks to everyone who entered to win the Healthy Habits Plate. There’s still time to enter, click here if you haven’t yet!
What are your thoughts on artificial dyes in our foods?