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Is it safe to eat green food coloring?

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With St. Patrick’s Day coming, many will be treating themselves to a green treat or two, but is it OK to eat a lot of foods with colored dye?

According to Lindsay Malone, a registered dietician at Cleveland Clinic, the research on colored food dyes is a mixed bag when it comes to determining how much is too much.

She said one thing is for sure, people probably don’t want to eat too many dyed foods, because those foods are usually junk foods, which really aren’t good for people.

“On St. Patrick’s Day, if you have a treat that has some green food coloring in it, you’re probably not going to experience any negative health effects, but keep it to a minimum. Really try and focus on those foods that are naturally bright in color, so that you get some vitamins and minerals.” Malone said.

Malone said that when we think of green dyed foods, they are typically things like sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals, desserts, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and milkshakes.

These types of foods are high in sugar, high in fat and really empty of any sort of nutritional value, she said.

Malone said if you want to incorporate more green foods into their St. Patrick’s Day festivities, they are better off going with something that’s naturally green. Foods like kale, leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, and green peppers are great choices. These foods are high in vitamins, nutrients and minerals and are generally low in calories.

If people really want to keep it festive, Maone said why not try to incorporate some traditional Irish dishes into the mix.

“Colcannon, which is a potato and kale dish or some salmon or a dark stout beer, all of these are really colorful foods that naturally have a lot of nutrients,” Malone said.

Malone said if people are looking to dye something green, try adding a little spinach to a smoothie, which will keep it healthy, but give it a nice bright green color. She also reminded folks that if they eat a lot of green-dyed food on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s no real cause for concern, if it’s just for one day.