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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 2/14/11

Roses are red, violets are blue, red is the color of romance, and tasty foods too!
On this day of love and romance, there are many ways we choose to show our affection for those we love. Some give flowers and cards. For me, sweets are always involved. My favorite thing to give (and receive) on Valentine’s Day is a pink-frosted cupcake. I bake a batch every year and make my own pink frosting by adding red food coloring to vanilla icing to get the perfect hue. Yum!

On Valentine’s Day, foods in shades of red and pink are in no short supply. While many foods are naturally red, such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes and red peppers, many foods use food colors to brighten a colorless food, or to enhance the color already present in the food. Some examples of foods that may contain food colors include flavored yogurts, juice drinks, jams and jellies, and candies and desserts. 

So what exactly is a food color? A food color, or color additive, is any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when added or applied to a food, drug, cosmetic, or the human body. All food colors are reviewed for safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before being approved for use in foods and beverages in the U.S. 

The use of color additives in foods and beverages has occasionally been questioned over the years. A few studies have suggested a link between food colors and hyperactivity in children.  However, these studies could not confirm that the food colors were responsible for the results, and there are numerous scientific studies and reviews that have not found evidence of a link between food colors and hyperactivity.

A world without food colors would mean no pink icing on my Valentine’s Day cupcakes - where’s the fun in that?  Enjoyment of Valentine’s Day foods is at the “heart” of many happy memories for me. Sweet treats are fine to enjoy occasionally.  As with most things in life, moderation is key. And there are plenty of good-tasting, red-colored foods that are high in nutrients as well.

For dinner tonight, I plan to have spaghetti with red sauce, a glass of red wine, and of course, a pink cupcake. What are some of your favorite red foods on Valentine’s Day?


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