At some point, you’ve probably heard that you and especially your children should avoid artificial food coloring, and that there are many reasons why you should. Research has found that children consuming too many food dyes can result in adverse reactions such as: allergies, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating.
Many foods contain artificial food dyes so make sure you check ingredient labels even on foods that you might not think would contain dyes (pizza, macaroni and cheese) and foods that are marketed as “healthy” or “natural” (granola bars). Artificial food dyes are listed on the ingredient labels, so be sure to read the label closely looking for: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, FD&C Lakes (combination of colors), Citrus Red #2, and Artificial Color. You can also avoid artificial food coloring by choosing organic foods, because certified organic products cannot contain artificial colors.
As a parent, you want what is best for your children, so here is a list of common foods with food coloring and some healthier alternatives:
Instant flavored Oatmeal Packets and Cups
Example: Quaker Instant Oatmeal Maple and Brown Sugar
Healthier Swap: Plain oatmeal with fresh toppings (fruit, honey, cinnamon, vanilla)
Example: Kraft, Wishbone
Healthier Swap: Homemade salad dressings
Example: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Trix, Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch Cereal, Kellogg’s, Special K Fruit & Yogurt Cereal
Healthier Swap: Envirokidz Cereals
Example: Aunt Jemima Butter Rich Syrup, Mrs. Butterworth’s Syrup Original
Healthier Swap: Grade A pure maple syrup
Healthier Swap: Homemade flavor applesauce and unflavored applesauce
Example: M&Ms, Skittles
Healthier Swap: Mott’s Medley’s fruit snacks, chocolate without any candy coating
Healthier Swap: Air-pop popcorn or popped in pot with olive oil and toppings added.
Artificially Flavored Drinks
Example: Soda, sports beverages, juice cocktails
Healthier Swap: Punch 100% fruit juice
Example: Popsicles and Ice Cream
Healthier Swap: Make your own popsicles using fresh fruit and 100% juices or smoothies
Certain Flavored Yogurts
Healthier Swaps: Plain yogurt and add toppings such as smashed fruit, honey, granola, etc.
Healthier Swap: Naturally color homemade baked goods (cupcakes, icing, etc.) with smashed and strained fruits
Chips (BBQ and other flavors)
Healthier Swap: Plain potato chips (Ruffles), tortilla chips (but not colored ones)