We all want our children to have fun and fit in during Easter. Many of us feel we have no choice but to pile up the candy in brightly colored Easter baskets every year to our excitedly eager children. As a family we have had to make some tough decisions on candy. I felt it was important to share what I have learned so far about ingredients. Also, I want to offer support to other parents out there that feel overwhelmed with the pressure of pleasing our beautiful children with loads of candy during the holidays.
There are so many candies out there, so I wanted to list a few of the WORST ingredients. These ingredients can be very harmful for our children. Below are the list of ingredients and the harmful effects they have on our children and ourselves.
In moderation, especially in natural fruits and vegetables, sugar can be okay. But when it is the first ingredient in a treat, it is bad. We all know the effect sugar can have on our little ones. Processed foods and candy with high sugar content have little to no nutritional value. High sugar content can cause hyperactivity, stress on the liver, an imbalance in the body and a ‘sugar crash’. It is even worse when there is another type of sugar listed in front of it or behind it, such as corn syrup. This is called ‘stacking’ sugars. Food companies do this to help enhance flavor and sweetness. Stacking sugars is not good for our health.
Corn Syrup (aka corn syrup solids) and High Fructose Corn Syrup (aka HFCS)
Corn syrup can be listed under a variety of names, even corn sugar, fructose or maize syrup. Unless it specifically states ‘cane’ sugar, you may be eating corn syrup! You will never hear me say ‘corn syrup is okay in moderation’. Personally I think avoiding it completely is the safest. Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup break down and respond within our bodies much differently than pure cane sugar and raw honey. Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup have both been linked to weight gain, obesity and other health concerns. In my opinion, it also plays a role in children and autism. We personally have had such a bad experience with corn syrup (both corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup) that we avoid it all costs!
Artificial Color and Dyes
Yellow #5 (a/k/a Tartrazine) is used as a colorant because it’s cheaper than the alternative natural colors. It is made from coal tar* and can cause excitability and sometimes allergies in children. Most artificial dyes have been known to cause a reaction of some sort, as listed in this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-gavigan/food-dye_b_3792860.html
Potassium sorbate is used in a wide range of foods as a way to prevent molding and separation. However, it can cause trouble when ingested. This ingredient can also be a skin irritant if used topically!
Dextrose is a processed sugar generally made from corn or wheat. A variety of health issues have been linked to dextrose such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimers and heart disease.
Maltodextrin is a highly processed binder generally made from corn, wheat or rice. A variety of health issues have been linked to Maltodextrin such as change in blood pressure, bloating, weight gain, bacteria in your gut and other health risks.
David Andrews, Ph.D. is a senior scientist at the Environmental Work Group. He stated that “Natural and artificial flavors play an interesting role in food. They’re essentially providing the taste and often they’re added to make the food more appealing, or to potentially replace something that’s lost through processing, storage or in some cases even from pasteurizing…” Sadly, just because it says ‘natural’ does not mean that it is completely natural. A ‘natural flavor’ may have come from a naturally occurring food or substance. However, many times it is altered with a chemical to enhance flavor and then added back into food.
For alternatives candies try YumEarth Organics or Lake Champlain Chocolates. Finding them that can be challenging but it is worth the switch. Sometimes making treats with real ingredients at home, as a family, is the best option!
There are certain candies out there that are much worse than others. Just be sure to read your labels before you purchase your treats and of course do your research. The ingredients allowed in our foods are not always safe for our loved ones.
*www.dictionary.reference.com – *Coal Tar – a thick, black, viscid liquid formed during the distillation of coal, that upon further distillation yields compounds, as benzene, anthracene, and phenol, from which are derived a large number of dyes, drugs and other synthetic compounds, and that yields a final residuum (coal-tar pitch), which is used chiefly in making pavements.
Mamur S, Yüzbaşioğlu D, Unal F, Yilmaz S. Does potassium sorbate induce genotoxic or mutagenic effects in lymphocytes, Toxicol In Vitro. 2010;24:790-4.