Nutritional Ingredients

Natural and artificial colors and their impact on food


natural and artificial food colors, It can be defined as a common additive used in the production of foods and beverages. In addition It can be found in many other products such as cosmetics and skin care products.

During the next few lines, we try to review some information about these natural and artificial colors and why they are used? The difference between natural and artificial colours. and its negative or positive effect on food.

Natural and artificial colours

Since consumers base a lot of their choice of food on the basis of colour, This can be considered the main reason why the food industry uses colorants to improve the product from an aesthetic point of view. Adding color to foods makes them look more like a delicious, fresh product.

Moreover, we find that some consumers enjoy colorful themed foods, especially on holidays such as Halloween, New Year’s Day, or Easter.

The color is considered natural if it is of plant, microbiological, animal or mineral origin. If synthetic colors were created in laboratories by chemists, It is industrial.


What are food colors?

Food colors are: “Color additives, whether a pigment or other substance made by a synthesis process or similar means, extracted, isolated or otherwise derived, using a medium without changing the identity of the food itself, whether from plant, animal or other sources, Which, when added to food, gives it color.

Food coloring chemicals are generally divided into three categories:

  • Synthetic organic compounds (these are FD&C colors)
  • Mineral or synthetic inorganic colors (such as iron oxide)
  • natural coloring from vegetables or animals (fruit and vegetable juices, or colored extracts).
industrial colours

Why are foods coloured?

Chefs add tomato paste to pasta for example, Not only for intense tomato flavor but for a deeper, richer “tomato” colour, where it makes food appetizing, Just as the eye loves before the heart sometimes. Sometimes the eye tastes before the tongue.

And if we think about it, We find that from an early age we learn the colors that correspond to foods. Moreover, We learn to associate these colors with the quality of the food itself, If dark green vegetables look grayish green and “lifeless” we know they are not fresh or of good quality.

Therefore; The colorful additions make the food more attractive and delicious. It even helps us decide which foods to buy and eat.

But the question remains, are the bright colors used in today’s food necessary?

of course not, It may be difficult to justify Especially when the colors come from a lab rather than nature.


natural food colouring

It is almost impossible to define “natural” food colors in one way. For example caramel comes, It is an essential factor for the color of food, of organic sugars or amino acids.

These colors can be called natural in that they are produced by biological systems in nature. But the caramel color itself does not come from these systems. Instead of that, The sugars or proteins are modified to produce the color.

therefore When it comes to the colors extracted from living things, The definition must be expanded, otherwise the word “natural” will lose all meaning. Pigments may come from living (or dead) cells. But it can be changed in some way to affect its usefulness.

It can also be said that natural colors come from minerals as well. In the nineteenth century, Colorants derived from minerals have been introduced into food products. Which led to very serious health problems.

Natural ingredients that have been used in food coloring include vermilion, paprika, saffron, turmeric, carrot oil, beet extract, and vegetable and fruit juices. also Some natural nutrients can also be used for food colouring. such as riboflavin and beta-carotene.


Effect of natural colors on food

On the other hand, the natural colors that can be added to food are associated with with positive health effects, In general, many producers are increasingly doing, By expanding the use of natural colors on food due to the many proposed health effects that go beyond the effect of basic human nutrition, Here are some examples:

  • Anthocyanin-based colors (red to violet and blue) improve cardiovascular strength and reduce cholesterol
  • Carotenoid-based colors (yellow and orange) compensate for age-related macular degeneration.
  • Artificial color (yellow) inhibits cognitive decline.

In any case, with a large number of natural and synthetic color options available in the market, One should be aware of both its chemical properties that affect the ability to replace synthetics as well as its health-promoting properties, Which may have a lasting effect on consumers.


industrial food colouring

Industry approved colors are widely produced and used because they impart intense and uniform color, are less expensive, and are more easily blendable to create a variety of looks.

There are nine color additives approved for use. Food colors generally do not add unwanted flavors to foods. Naturally derived color additives are often more expensive than certified colors and may add unintended flavors to foods.

The effect of artificial colors on children

The effect of artificial colors on food

Synthetic food dyes are responsible for the bright colors of candy, sports drinks, and baked goods. It is also used in certain types of pickles, smoked salmon, and salad dressings.

The consumption of food dyes, both natural and artificial, has increased by 500% in the past 50 years. Children were the biggest consumers.

Some scientific studies say that synthetic dyes cause serious side effects. such as hyperactivity in children, As well as cancer and allergies.

And in 1973, Pediatric allergists have claimed that hyperactivity and learning problems in children are caused by artificial food coloring and preservatives in food.

at that time, There have been very few studies that support their claims. But many fathers adopted his philosophy, and since then, Several studies have found a small but significant association between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children.

Tartrazine has also been associated with, Also known as Yellow 5, Behavioral changes including irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

This comes at a time when dietitians have advised that artificial colors should be eliminated as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The three most commonly used colors – Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40 – which contain dangerous compounds, are also associated with including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, with cancer.

Moreover, a US study published in the journal Science found that when children consumed products with artificial colors, they performed worse on tests that measured their ability to remember images.

Some even showed mild signs of autism, such as difficulty sitting in a chair and interrupting conversations.

Many scientists believe that foods that contain dyes are often full of other nutritional problems. such as extra calories and fat, Pointing out that childhood obesity is a greater public health concern.


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