Skittles “taste the rainbow” motto is taking on a dark new meaning in the wake of a lawsuit alleging the dangers of a known ingredient: titanium dioxide, an artificial chemical additive (banned in Europe) that gives the fruity candy its fun and bright colouring.
Titanium dioxide is used in most popular candies and other processed foods to give a smooth texture or to work as a white colorant. The pigment can brighten other colors, making the food more vibrant and appealing, but the additive has no nutritional benefit and has now raised concerns about the potential toxicity of this ingredient calling Skittles “unfit for human consumption.”
While titanium dioxide has made mainstream news, there are also a slew of other ingredients that in my personal opinion we all should be wary of. As a certified health coach, I teach how to read the ingredient label and if you have been following my Instagram you already know that Skittles is a hard pass from an ingredient standpoint. For the rest of you that are new to this, let’s read the label and understand some of these ingredients further.
Sugar. Skittles are made of the conventional refined white sugar you’ll find in most candies. Most likely from genetically modified sugar crops. We all know that eating too much sugar doesn’t do the body good.
Corn syrup. A liquid sweetener made of glucose. It doesn’t get as much negative publicity as high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity and diabetes but many studies indicate corn syrup can also be debilitating, considering it’s basically liquid sugar.
Hydrogenated palm kernel oil. This plant oil comes from the kernel of the oil palm plant. In candy, it’s used to enhance flavor and texture. However, hydrogenated oils’ trans fats have been shown to harm heart health.. Studies reveal that trans fats can increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while decreasing good HDL (good) cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Citric acid. Citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits, but for candy like Skittles, you’ll find the manufactured version. It’s used to increase acidity, improve flavor, and preserve ingredients but can also trigger allergies.
Modified corn starch. This emulsifier and gelling agent is made from corn, another genetically modified crop and is a big reason that Skittles are as gummy as they are. This ingredient is known to potentially cause digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
Natural and artificial flavors. Companies usually don’t disclose what’s actually in these flavors. What we know is that they are synthesized chemicals (made in a lab) that interact with each other to create a flavor usually based off one found in nature. Artificial flavoring has been shown to have a wide variety of side effects ranging from headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and an increased risk of cancers.
Colors. Ever wondered why Skittles are so bright? Skittles use dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 2 &1, and titanium dioxide. These artificial colors are derived from raw materials obtained by petroleum. Dyes have serious side effects, such as hyperactivity (ADHD) in children, as well as cancer and allergies.
Hopefully, this has added a little “color” as to why you need to skip the Skittles. The bottomline: Skittles are basically artificially-colored and flavored balls of sugar held together with a hydrogenated vegetable oil and modified corn. I think they need a makeover in their motto, more like “taste the toxins” instead.
Follow along @wewelltogether as I educate on how to read your ingredient labels and truly understand what you are really eating.
Maria Crokos is a Certified Holistic Health Coach living in Boca Raton, Florida. She earned her certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, the largest globally renowned nutrition school in the world. She is an advocate for women’s health, clean eating, especially for children, and how to live an overall healthy lifestyle.
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