When Cyndi Lauper sings "I see your true colors shining through," she could be rallying shoppers to reject the artificially dyed foods that line grocery store shelves. But with her hair dyed pink, green, purple and red, it's clearly a case of "Do as I sing, not as I hair-do."
Although artificial food coloring is Food and Drug Administration-approved, until recently, no one ever checked to see how big a dose various products actually contain! When researchers took a look, they discovered that the doses of artificial dyes in many breakfast cereals, candies, bakery items, frozen dinners and side dishes were a lot higher than the amounts studied to validate their safety. And although the FDA has admitted that some approved food dyes (in large quantities) might cause behavioral problems in kids, the dyes remain in your food. We think they might turn out to be just as harmful as now-banned dyes that were found to make kids sick and cause cancer or other health problems in lab animals.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a chemist to determine which foods and beverages to avoid because of the dyes they contain: If you eliminate the Five Food Felons (anything with added sugar or syrups, trans or saturated fats and any grain that isn't 100 percent whole) plus artificial sweeteners, you'll dodge most foods containing artificial dyes. And a quick read of the ingredients list on everything you buy is always smart, because that's where the foods show their true colors, in black and white.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.