Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.
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“I heard about Oasis’s Liam Gallagher going to the hospital after eating a blue M&M. What’s the deal? Was it the blue dye or the M&M, and should I be worried?” – Heather N., Madison, WI
Before you get blue thinking you can never eat your fave blue M&Ms again, you should know that it wasn’t the blue dye in the M&M that caused Liam Gallagher’s rush to the ER, but rather the rascally little peanut. Liam had a perfectly healthy relationship with peanuts as a child, but developed an allergy to them about a month ago. Bummer! About 1% of people have either a peanut allergy or tree nut allergy (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, and pistachios) which can cause life threatening swelling and tightening of the throat, better known as anaphylactic shock.
In case you were wondering, even though the peanut was the culprit in Liam’s case and the blue dye was simply an innocent bystander, artificial dyes aren’t exactly “innocent” in my book. While the FDA has approved nine artificial food colorings as safe for eating, including the dyes found in blue M&Ms, you might think twice about ingesting them. Blue No. 1 comes from coal tar and oil and Blue No. 2 is derived from petroleum…sounds to me like they belong in our cars, not our bellies! Similarly, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40 are artificial dyes that are commonly found in many processed foods and have been linked to behavioral problems in children, skin reactions, migraines, and cancer. But don’t fret, you can still have your red velvet cake and eat it too (as long as it’s a conscious indulgence!). When buying products, just look for brands that use natural colorings such as beta carotene color, annato, paprika, beets, beet juice, carotenes, and turmeric extract. Annie’s, Trader Joe’s, and Back to Nature are just a couple examples of companies that ditch the artificial dyes and stick to the real stuff.
Here’s a fun fact: peanuts are not even nuts! They are actually legumes and belong to the same family as chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils. So if you have a peanut allergy, you may have no problem with the actual nuts listed above. If you do have a tree nut allergy and are as confused about what you can eat as you are about the meaning of “Champagne Supernova”, then be sure to consult your doctor or allergist before making yourself an almond butter sammie.
For more information on peanut allergies, check out this website from Food Allergy Research & Education: http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/peanut-allergy.
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman
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