How Halloween Candy Affects Kids
It’s time to purchase ALL.THE.CANDY. I mean, it’s for the trick-or-treaters, right? Of course it is.
Whether your children dress in costumes and fill buckets with candy or you choose not to celebrate the holiday, inevitably, the candy somehow still ends up in your home. Before you allow your children “a few harmless pieces,” take the time to learn the consequences of your actions. I am not totally ruining candy for you. There are plenty of great premade, purchasable candies out there, and a plethora of healthier homemade recipes to meet every candy craving.
From Kit Kats and Reeses to Candy Corn and Candy Bars, I took the top purchased candies and broke down their ingredient lists. This is what I found. The most common ingredients are:
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Also labeled as corn syrup, maize syrup, glucose syrup, fructose syrup, tapioca syrup, dahlia syrup, fruit syrup, and crystalline fructose. Corn syrup is derived from genetically modified corn. It “is heavily processed, using enzymes to turn cornstarch into glucose and then fructose.” Even though glucose and fructose occur in nature, HFCS does not occur in nature. Cornstarch is converted to glucose, some of which is then converted to fructose. If a substance’s molecular structure has been changed in a factory, it can’t be considered natural.
A few documented reasons to stay away from HFCS include its links to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart attack and heart disease. Additionally, regular consumption of corn syrup may lead to anemia, weakened immune system, fatigue, mood swing and suppressed metabolism. Particularly sensitive individuals may also experience light-headedness or headaches and bowel issues. (A safe, healthy option: look for honey as an ingredient. It is also known that consuming raw milk combates the side effects of HFCS. http://www.earthclinic.com/cures/corn-syrup-side-effects.html ) http://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/Newsletter/100110_High-Fructose_04.html
Natural or Artificial Flavors: “natural flavor” is the fourth most common ingredient listed on labels – not just in your candy. This is a BIG umbrella folks. Companies can label absolutely any ingredient, whether it is synthetic, chemical, etc as a “flavor” as long as it is generally regarded as safe by the FDA. The most common ingredients labeled as “Flavors” are as follows, and you may see some of these listed on their own on a label, but if you don’t, do not be surprised if they are in the product. http://www.livescience.com/ http://www.foodadditivesworld.com/
- MSG: Monosodium-glutamate is a brain neurotoxin. It is a slow poison. Known as flavor-enhancer 621, MSG is now labeled as a “Natural flavor.” Children are more vulnerable to MSG dangers than adults. In fact, MSG and other flavor enhancers are not permitted in foods produced specifically for infants and young children who are 12 months old or less. MSG can cause or exacerbate brain lesions, neuroendocrine disorders, learning disabilities, adverse reactions, neurodegenerative disease and more. The short of it: MSG kills brain cells. http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
- Aluminum Silicate
Insoluble and used as a refractory in glassmaking. It is used as coagulation in food.
- Amino Acid Compounds
- Amyl Acetate
A pear and banana oil. Many artificial flavors are made using amyl acetate. It may cause nervous system depression, indigestion, chest pain, headaches, fatigue, and irritate the mucus membranes.
- Amyl Alcohol
Closely related to Amyl Acetate and also known to be toxic.
- Annatto bixine (yellow orange): My sensitive child reacts to this! It is also called roucou, and is a natural plant extract used to dye an assortment of foods, textiles, and body care products. Primarily, it is used as red / orange in a wide assortment of foods. The food additive number for it is E160b, allowing consumers to identify it on a label even when it is not listed by name. Some children react to this just as they do other food colorings.
- Benzoates (including sodium benzoate)
Can trigger allergies such as skin rashes and asthma, and are believed to be linked brain damage.
Almond flavor, and when derived from nature, traces of hydrogen cyanide – a deadly poison – can be found in it. When made by mixing oil of clove and amyl acetate, no cyanide is produced. Nonetheless, both natural and artificial benzaldehyde can cause central nervous system depression and convulsions.
- Benzyl Acetate
Also related to Amyl Acetate and may cause gastrointestinal, bronchial, skin, and eye irritation.
Artificial flavoring that may cause gastrointestinal irritation, seizures, confusion, and dizziness.
Destroy the nutrients in the foods. It can give rise to nausea and diarrhea.
- Butryic Acid
Caused cancer in lab test with animals.
- Butyl Acetate
Related to Butryic Acid can be toxic in high quantities.
Responsible for high blood cholesterol levels as well as impaired liver and kidney function. Ex) Butylated Hydrozyttoluene (BHT), Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Colorant and flavorant that has diuretic, stimulant properties. It can cause nervousness, heart palpitations and occasionally heart defects.
- Canthaxanthin: Other names – Canthaxanthine, Carophyll Red, CI Food Orange 8, Colour Index No. 40850, E161, Roxanthin Red 10.
Very common flavoring and coloring agent that can cause vitamin B6 deficiencies. It can cause certain genetic defects and even cancer.
Artificial flavoring that can lead to respiratory and circulatory depression as well as cardiac failure.
- Cinnamyl Formate
Also simply known as formic acid, (artificial cinnamon – it may simply say “cinnamon flavor” in the label) has caused cancer in mice and may affect our kidneys.
- Erythrosine (red)
See Red Dye below.
- Red Dye 40
Red dye is known to cause attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Also suspected to cause certain birth defects and possibly cancer.
- Mono and di-glycerides
Can cause birth defects, genetic changes and cancer.
- Potassium Bromate: banned from China, European Union, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere because it causes cancer in rats and mice.
- Potassium Sorbate: A synthetic preservative linked to allergies, nausea, eye irriation, and diarrhea
Causes toxic reactions and allergic response, affecting skin, gastrointestinal tract and heart. It may also cause tumors and bladder cancer.
- Sodium Benzoate
Also known as E211. Sodium benzonate is a common preservative. The FDA classifies it as safe. However, sodium benzoate forms a chemical known as benzene when in the presence of vitamin C.Also heat converts sodium benzoate to benzene. Fruit jellies, jams, and fruit juices which are made with high vitamin C fruits with heat applied in the manufacturing process can be particularly dangerous due to the conversion to benzene from sodium benzoate. Benzene damage DNA and seems to play a role in a variety of diseases due to DNA damaging capabilities. It’s also a known carcinogen.Some studies have shown that sodium benzoate in processed food along with artificial food colorings can cause children with ADHD to be more hyperactive.
- Sodium Chloride
Can lead to high blood pressure, kidney failure, stroke and heart attack.
- Sodium Nitrite
Can be carcinogenic and have other adverse effects on health.
- Salt (common table salt is refined salt)
Refined salt has depleted mineral and higher concentration of sodium then unrefined sundried sea salt.
- Sugar (common white sugar is refined sugar)
Most commonly used additive.
- Tartrazine (Azoic yellow): on ingredient labels as FD&C yellow 5, E102 or C.I. 19140. It is an artificial coloring that is used to make foods and other products more visually appealing or appetizing. It is also used in the printing, textile and paper-manufacturing industries as pH indicators or biological stains. Tartrazine is tied to anxiety, migraines, asthma attacks, blurred vision, eczema, other skin rashes, thyroid cancer, Eosinophilia (increase in specific forms of white blood cells), clinical depression, ADHD or hyperactivity, hives, permanent DNA damage, heart palpitations, rhinitis, sleep disturbances/insomnia, general all-over weakness, hot flushes and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). In severe cases, anaphylactic-like reactions. When fed to chickens it makes their egg yolks yellower – because, in our society, that is so important. (Sarcasm.) Tartrazine interferes with the metabolism of Vitamin B6 in the body.
(A great substitute: Tumeric!)
Artificial vanilla, can cause allergic reactions. It can limit the liver enzyme dopamine sulphotransferase by 50%. Its sources are the waste product of paper mills and petroleum.
Artificial Colors: (See above for specifics)
Emulsifiers: linked to irritable bowel syndrome, disruption of the gut, and obesity.
Nitrites (and nitrates): Synthetic and highly toxic. In fact, these ingredients have been highly linked with a number of deadly cancers.
Trans Fat: Trans fat is also synonymous with the common ingredient “hydrogenated oil.”
Hydrogenated palm kernel oil: Besides being linked to deforestation through the plantations creating this oil, palm oil was found to impair the digestive systems of mice during studies. http://humanfoodproject.com/
Soy Lechithin: Derived from genetically modified soy, lechithin is linked to increase risk of breast cancer, infertility, and impeded brain development in children.
Preservatives: There is no shortage to the amount or types of chemicals put in our food today, and one of the top things added to our food are preservatives. These chemical ingredients, such as TBHQ and/or BHT and BHA are man-made chemicals that do preserve food for longer, but at a great expense to our health. Preservatives have been linked with a number of problems such as allergies and sensitivities, digestion problems, mental problems such as ADHD and depression, as well as cancer.
TBHQ: The most common food preservative. Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is a petroleum-derived form of butane. It is commonly found in lighter fluid (Oh and Butterfingers… and other of your Halloween goodies.) 5 grams of TBHQ is lethal and the FDA ruled that quantities larger than 0.02% could not be used. (RUN AWAY FROM THIS!)
Alternative Sweeteners: For those who are diabetic or otherwise trying to cut down on their sugar intake, food manufacturers have created “sugar free” options that have no sugar. Instead of using sugar, they have replaced it with a non-nutritive, synthetic sweetener. These sugar replacements, such as aspartame, splenda, sucralose, and/or Ace-K act similarly to flavor enhancers in the body, in that they stimulate cells and cause cellular death. These artificial sweeteners wreak havoc in the body and can actually still lead to weight gain and cravings.
Shellac: The shiny coating on your candy labeled “confectioner’s glaze.”
Castoreum: An extract from beaver perineal glands and beaver urine typically considered a “natural flavoring.” You’ll find this in anything berry or vanilla flavored.
Gelatin: a thickening agent made from the protein collagen, which is extracted from animal skin and bones. You will find this in your gummies.
We need to shift our focus from specific harmful ingredients to the food itself: where is this food coming from, how is it being processed, and most importantly, is it even food?
The good news: There are companies providing high-quality candy. My personal favorite place to shop:
(I am not affiliated with the above site, I just have a child with gut issues, speech delay, sensory processing disorder, food allergies, and food sensitivities.)
Just for a chuckle: This is how we feel on Halloween