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I bet when health experts say to eat a rainbow they aren’t referring to skittles®.  While this blog is about making small changes, this change may be a bigger challenge than we expect:

Cut Out the Artificial Colors!!

ByStuartMilesGrowing up my brothers and I would have to beg our mom to buy Fruit Loops® or Fruity Pebbles®.  Thank goodness my mother had common sense and rarely gave in, her argument being, in addition to the unnecessary sugar content, “all that fake color can’t be good for you.”  Even though she probably didn’t know all the reasons these falsely colored cereals weren’t good for us, none the less, she was right.

There are people on both sides of the artificial color debate.  Some say that there isn’t enough evidence that the current FDA approved artificial colors are harmful.  Others believe that the current body of evidence, pointing to various side effects such as contributing to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and/or cancer, is enough to have the colors banned.  Many European countries have already banned most or all of the artificial colors we use here in the United States.

I’m not here to debate the level of harm artificial colors can cause.  Although, I do believe that basic common sense, as it did my mother, should tell us not to eat them.  My advice being, to cut out foods with artificial colors.  My philosophy on healthy eating involves getting as close to the way nature intended.  I was appalled when I read that the reduced-sugar jelly I almost bought had red #5.  To me the obvious fake color made it look less appetizing.

While many foods are obviously artificially colored, ie: most powdered drink mixes, juice drinks, and fruit flavored candy.  There are many more that require a closer look.  The only way to be sure if a food does or doesn’t contain an artificial color is to read the ingredient label.

The most widely used artificial colors in the United States includes:

  • Blue #1 and Blue #2
  • Green #3
  • Red #3 and Red #40
  • Yellow # 5 and Yellow #6

To open your eyes to where artificial colors can be hidden, here is a list of common items that may likely contain artificial color.

  • Yogurt
  • Ice Cream


  • Pickles



  • Jelly/Jam



  • Baked goods



  • Crackers



  • Ketchup



  • Sauce/dressing



  • Dips/spreads



  • Juice Drinks



  • Cereals (even ones that aren’t obvious and rainbow colored)


Next time you’re out shopping make sure you read the ingredient list, even on your least suspecting foods.  If you’re eating at a restaurant your guess is as good as mine.
Image Courtesy of By: Stuart Miles
Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
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