Food Dyes and Additives to Watch Out For |

Food Dyes and Additives to Watch Out For

admin January 3, 2011

 Image by Matthew Bland

Welcome to 2011!  This month we’re going to be talking about a lot starting-over type of things (and a lot of other stuff too).  Part of this means I’ll be talking about some rather basic issues, which hopefully will be nice for those of you newer to real food.  So today I’ll be sharing a list of food additives that you especially want to avoid and why.

Let’s be honest: it can be overwhelming to read all the labels and just avoid things.  As you make changes towards real food, though, you’ll be selecting products that just naturally don’t contain most of these.  At that point, the very few times you’d consume these additives might be “worth it” given your situation.  But that’s up to you to decide.

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) — Migraines, neurological issues, seizures, depression, heart irregularities.

Autolyzed Yeast — A form of MSG (see above).

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein — A form of MSG (see above).

Mono- and diglycerides — A type of trans fat used to keep products with oil from separating, and increase shelf life.

Soy lecithin — Often genetically modified, linked to infertility, allergies, and gut issues.

Sodium Nitrite — Linked to migraines and colon cancer.

Sodium Nitrate — Linked to cancer in large amounts.

Citric Acid — Only a problem if sourced from GMO foods.

Malic Acid — In larger doses, linked to chest pain, allergies, and other adverse effects.

Cellulose — Modified and possibly GMO, heavy on fiber.

Potassium Bromate — Causes cancer.

Polysorbate 80 — Allergies, infertility, other problems.  Found in vaccines as well as foods.

Propylene glycol — Eczema, allergies, kidney damage, liver damage.

Polydextrose — A type of modified, low-calorie fiber; too new to know if it is harmful or not. 

Red 40 — Hyperactivity, cancer (petroleum-based)

Yellow 5 — Hyperactivity, cancer (petroleum-based)

Food Coloring — ADHD, allergies, etc.  Contains propylene glycol, as well as petroleum-based dye.

Aspartame, Sucralose — Artificial sweeteners linked to cancer, allergies, lots of other health issues.  Do NOT consume!!


These food additives are everywhere!  Be careful of them.  You will even find them in organic processed foods, which is why it’s best to avoid even those.  There are very few safe food additives.  If you recognize and can pronounce the ingredients on a product label (and there should not be too many), it is probably safe.  The longer the ingredient list, especially if there are unfamiliar/unprounceable ingredients, the less safe it is.  Skip it!  Go for whole, real foods every time. 🙂

Are you ready?  One week from today, Healthy Pregnancy Super Foods i coming.  A great book for everyone looking to incorporate more super foods into their diet!

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  1. My in-laws throw up if they consume MSG. It makes me exhausted and gives me headaches.


  2. I am curious as to what people do for kid drinks. My kids drink kool-aid mostly, and every time I try to stop it, my husband will just buy more because the kids will hardly drink anything else. Any ideas? No milk in our house as we have 2 kids with dairy allergy and a third with lactose intolerance.


    • My girls love almond milk! We buy the kind that is lactose and soy free!! We only keep water and milk in the house. My husband loves soda but the kids do not get that and I do not drink that anymore. Occasionally They will get a gatorade but usually only when they are sick and puking and i cannot get them to hold anything else down… I have noticed that if there are too many options around, food or drink, they will go for the tastier(usually bad for you) one. In most cases if you limit their options they will adapt to it…it may not be easy..but worth it. Just what I have noticied 😉


  3. Becky,

    My best suggestion in this case is herbal teas (fruit flavored with real fruit bits and herbs, but no actual "tea" and no caffeine. I get some from Teavana, but there are lots of types out there. Just make it and mix with some honey. It tastes a lot like Kool aid, but without the artificial aftertaste. And no white sugar! Otherwise you could use diluted 1OO% juice or even just water. They'll get used to it eventually! But really, it sounds like you and your husband need to have a serious talk about kids' drinks, because especially if Kool aid is nearly the ONLY thing they drink, they are getting a LOT of extra white sugar and food dyes, and those are prime causes of obesity and other issues among kids. They just don't need all that extra sugar in drink form.


  4. @ Becky- I feel your pain on the milk intolerace, we can't do it over here either! We drink Cocunut milk(So delicious brand) the way most drink real milk (the kiddos get 2-3 servings a day, about a sippy and a half :)), and besides that they get watered down juice, water, or thier current favorite(or constant favorite) is tea with honey. We just use Passion tea from Tazo(the brand starbucks sells, but you can find it in practically any grocery store for a few bucks). Just choose a bright colored tea and you should be fine. And I would agree with Kate on the no white sugar thing, however, kool-aid to no sugar may be a rather large jump. Maybe start out with pretty sweet, and each batch decrease the sugar/ swich to more honey, until hopefully in a few weeks they are drinking just lightly sweetened honey tea. Hang in there, they will drink when they are thirsty 🙂


  5. In Europe, foods containing artificial dyes carry a warning label! That's how bad things like Kool aid are. In March, the FDA is holding hearings on food dyes. What is wrong with water? Get a container that looks cool, place it where the kids can get it themselves. That's what worked for us. Also watch the short videos at


  6. I like the herbal tea idea – you'd probably have to brew it pretty strong to get it to a flavor level equivalent to the fruityness of Kool-Aid. I've found that for my own juices the V8 ones with nothing artificial are good because you get the fruity flavors with veggie juice hidden in it. And no added sugar, dyes, etc. It's not quite as good as making your own juice but it's good for those of us without the time to spend making our own juice.


  7. Thanks for the ideas. I know this is one are I really need to focus on, but I have had no ideas until now. It seems to be an area not really talked about in the real food area which I have really just started in. Which are your favor teas at the Teavana site? (there are ALOT of teas there!)


  8. This is a great post! We generally avoid processed food all together which helps keep us away from harmful dyes and additives.


  9. In the email of this story the picture is of what appears to be natural food colors. Are you familiar with them? Taking my son (and myself) off the chemcials and while coloring isn't needed, there are times it would add a fun dimension to things.


  10. Kelly,

    There are cool ways to color food without any type of food coloring. Blueberries, purple carrots, spinach, anything strongly colored. Turmeric is frequently used and is a healthy spice!


  11. I wrote a post about my experience using natural food colors. Here it is:
    They worked great.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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