“A no artificial colours diet focuses on avoiding foods and beverages that contain synthetic or artificial colouring agents. Here we look at the potential risks associated with artificial colours, and provide practical tips for incorporating natural food choices into your daily routine.
Understanding Artificial Colours
Artificial colours are chemical substances added to food and beverages to enhance their appearance, make them more visually appealing, or imitate the natural colours of ingredients. These colours are typically derived from petroleum-based chemicals and undergo extensive processing before being added to products.
It is estimated artificial food dye consumption has increased by 500% in the last 50 years with children being the biggest consumers. It has been a controversial topic over recent years where claims have been made that there are serious side effects such as hyperactivity in children as well as allergic reactions. In essence, the best approach is to avoid products with artificial colouring.
There are six artificial food dyes that are approved by both the FDA and the EFSA. Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 are the most common.
Red No. 3 (Erythrosine): A cherry-red coloring commonly used in candy, popsicles and cake-decorating gels.
Red No. 40 (Allura Red): A dark red dye that is used in sports drinks, candy, condiments and some cereal..
Yellow No. 5 (Tartrazine): A lemon-yellow dye that is found in candy/sweets, soft drinks, chips, popcorn and cereals.
Yellow No. 6 (Sunset Yellow): An orange-yellow dye that is used in candy/sweets, sauces, baked goods and preserved fruits.
Blue No. 1 (Brilliant Blue): A greenish-blue dye used in ice cream, canned peas, packaged soups, popsicles and icings.
Blue No. 2 (Indigo Carmine): A royal blue dye found in candy, ice cream, cereal and snacks.
Advantages of a No Artificial Colours Diet
Embracing The Natural: By eliminating artificial colors from your diet, you can focus on enjoying the natural colours of whole foods. This allows you to appreciate the vibrant hues found in fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs without the need for artificial additives.
Potential Health Benefits: Some research findings around artificial colours have highlighted concerns regarding their safety and potential health risks. While research is ongoing, adopting a no artificial colours approach may help reduce exposure to these additives and promote a more wholesome and natural eating pattern.
Promoting Whole Food Choices: Choosing foods without artificial colours encourages individuals to opt for whole, unprocessed foods. These include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and natural herbs and spices, which are rich in essential nutrients and free from artificial additives.
Incorporating Natural Food Choices into Your Diet
Opt for Whole, Unprocessed Foods: Focus on consuming foods in their natural state to avoid artificial colours. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and minimally processed ingredients provide an array of vibrant colours that can enhance both the visual appeal and nutritional value of your meals.
Read Ingredient Labels: When purchasing packaged foods, carefully read ingredient labels to identify products that are free from artificial colours. Look for foods labeled "no artificial colouirs" or check the ingredient list to ensure no artificial coloruings are present.
Cook from Scratch and Explore Natural Food Colouring Alternatives: Preparing meals at home using fresh ingredients allows you to control the colours in your dishes. If you enjoy baking or creating colourful desserts, consider using natural food colouring options like fruit and vegetable powders, beet juice concentrate, or spirulina. These alternatives can provide vibrant hues without relying on artificial colours.
Adopting a no artificial colours diet offers the opportunity to embrace natural colours, potentially reduce exposure to artificial additives, and prioritise whole, unprocessed foods. By incorporating fresh, colourful ingredients into your meals and being mindful of ingredient labels, you can nourish yourself with wholesome and visually appealing food choices.
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Food and Drug Administration (2020). Food Ingredients & Packaging. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-ingredients-packaging
United States Department of Agriculture (2021). Additives & Ingredients. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/additives-ingredients
Healthline (2021). The Harmful Effects of Artificial Colors. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/artificial-food-colors