This St. Patrick’s Day, more than 133 million people will be celebrating Irish culture and heritage with corned beef and cabbage, parades, traditional Irish music, shots of Jameson, shamrock decorations, and lots and lots of green beer.
While green beer seems to be a staple for this festive day, we should also be cognizant of what is really in green beer: is dying the beer dangerous? Well, that depends on what’s used to dye it. Most green beer is dyed with the same kind of food dye you can buy at the grocery store, which is has been determined safe enough to consume by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Artificial food coloring and dyes have been linked to cancer and behavioral problems —including hyperactivity.
“I don’t want to be a killjoy: a drop or two of green dye is okay,” Dr. Deepa Verma assured us. “But it should be understood that larger quantities of artificial dye or regular consumption of dye is toxic for the health. It is advised to avoid diets and foods that contain the unnecessary and toxic ingredient.”
To keep in the spirit of health and the holiday, we’d recommend looking for healthier alternatives to getting some green into your beer.
Dr. Verma recommends considering spirulina and wheatgrass. They have a fantastic pigment that will make anyone green with envy for your beer. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains potent antioxidants and is nutrient dense. Wheatgrass has a lot of the B vitamins which can also help stave off potential hangovers. You could also use a drop or two of chlorophyll or other natural plant-based dyes to add some color. Inquire at your local health food store.