‘Eat a Rainbow’ but Avoid the Sugary Rainfall of Artificial Food Coloring

Learn why doctors avoid anything with Yellow #5 and other artificial food coloring
Avoid Artificial Food Coloring

Candy may taste just dandy but it certainly isn’t a good idea to eat it! 

Colors are always in style when it comes to sprucing up your diet. As a general rule of thumb, blandly colored foods indicate lesser nutritional value — just think of all of your dull-looking fast food. Colorful foods are more than just aesthetically pleasing; their pigments actually have some pretty powerful tendencies to help combat diseases and improve your life. This is exactly why you should “eat a rainbow,” an array of colorful and gorgeous foods, but be careful of the kinds of colors you are eating. Artificial ones could be extremely dangerous — especially if they are associated with refined sugars.

“[Carnival foods are] almost all fried, covered with sugar, or made with chemical dyes," warns Dr. Joe Alton, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook. “Cotton candy is an example; it's pretty much all specially treated dyed sugar, called ‘floss’ sugar. Food dyes have shown some issues in animal studies. My main concern, of course, is that you're essentially just eating pure sugar.”

However, it is important to remember that the sugar isn’t the only thing to stress about in these fun-looking foods.

"If it has a color with a number next to it, steer clear away," advises Dr. Rohit Chandra, child and adult psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital-Chelsea and instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "Compounds like yellow #5 (tartrazine), red #40, and blue [should be avoided]. The #1 (brilliant blue) is derived from coal tars, and they’ve all been shown to cause allergic reactions. Yellow #5 has been persuasively linked to cancer and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many artificial colors were banned in Europe after research showed ill effects and consumers protested. However, we still allow them in the U.S. Froot Loops, Lucky Charms, and those weird blue Slurpees at 7-11 may taste good, but they are almost the definition of toxic."

To find out what other foods doctors won’t eat, check out our report here!

Related Links
Petition Against Kraft Foods’ Use of Artificial Dyes Gets PersonalCNN Rounds Up the Facts on Artificial SweetenersWhat's the Best-Tasting Artificial Sweetener for Your Coffee?Debunking the Myths About ‘Reduced-Fat,’ ‘Zero-Calorie,’ and Artificial SweetenersArtificial Sweeteners Could Treat Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds