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How Dangerous is Your Colorful Food?

Is your body paying the price for all of those colorful foods? You bet it is! Candy, flavored coffee (think unicorn coffee), vitamins, chips, soda, popcorn, baked goods, fruit roll-ups, yogurt, salad dressing, cough syrup, even mouthwash. The list goes on and on. Food dye is everywhere. And Americans are gobbling it up by the millions. Millions of pounds that is. Americans are now eating five times as much food dye as we did in 1955.

While natural colorants made from foods like beets and carrots are available, many manufacturers opt for synthetic dyes which are cheaper. But, its costing the American population big time! Food dyes have dangerous health consequences, particularly for children, according to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. This is why the nonprofit Washington, D.C.-based consumer-watchdog group has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban them. Such man-made food dyes appear in ingredient lists as a name of a color with a number following it: Blue 1 and 2, Citrus Red 2, Green 3, Red 3 and 40, Yellow 5 and 6.

The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research has linked with cancer.

Research has also associated food dyes with problems in children including allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairment, irritability and aggressiveness. A 2007 British study found that children who consumed a mixture of common synthetic dyes displayed hyperactive behavior within an hour of consumption. (These children had not been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.)

Preliminary evidence suggests that many children have a slight sensitivity to food dyes—and a smaller percentage are very sensitive. “We see reactions in sensitive individuals that include core ADHD symptoms, like difficulty sitting in a chair and interrupting conversations,” says David Schab, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and co-author of a 2004 meta-analysis that found food dyes promote hyperactive

behavior in already hyperactive children.

Effects of Food Dye

Blue #1

Possible effects include: hay fever, low blood pressure, hives, asthma, allergic reactions

Causes chromosomal damage

Caution is advised if aspirin sensitive

Red #40

Damages DNA, causes swelling around the mouth, hyperactivity in children, and lymphomas

Yellow #6

Can cause cancer, hyperactivity and allergic reactions

Yellow #5

Can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity and cancer

Blue #2

Petroleum based product which Increases hyperactivity in children, Increases brain tumors, Increases other abnormal cell development

Citrus Red #2

Causes bladder tumors

Green #3

Causes bladder tumors

Your best bet – stay clear and eat colorful, natural foods that nourish the body.

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