People have known how to extract colors from vegetables and fruits long time ago, to enhance the attractiveness of foods, especially traditional Vietnamese dishes such as wedding pastry, young rice cake, steamed sticky rice, glutinous rice cake, rice cake ... These simple dishes will become more attractive thanks to artful housewives. Nowadays, many food colors appear and are used popularly in daily cooking as well as in food industry. There are two kinds of food color: natural color and artificial color.

Although artificial colors has many outstanding advantages, it also contains a lot of harmful substances. Therefore, natural colors are always recommended for healthy use.

1. Why should we choose natural food color?

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Natural colorings are extracted or processed entirely from ingredients such as vegetables, tubers, and fruits which are available in nature. Besides helping foods more attractive, the natural colorings were also recognized to increase the nutritional value of the foods.

Some natural colorings such as:

Green from pandan, rattan plant, bamboo, cudweed, katuk...

Red, orange, yellow from spiny bitter gourd, turmeric, beetroot, cashew nuts, gardenia fruits...

Brown is extracted from coffee, cocoa or refined sugar.

Purple is extracted from magenta plants.

Black from ramie leaves...

Because of the extracts from natural ingredients, they also contain certain vitamins and minerals, such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and some diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases...

Natural colors are healthy, but there is a disadvantage that the color is unstable, you must use a large amount for good color. Meanwhile, artificial colors are very durable and we just need a small amount can brighten the color of the dish.

At many restaurants or food companies often use artificial colors to save the manufacturing cost. Although these ones are licensed by the Ministry of Health, but it is difficult to avoid the latent harm to human health. It hasn’t even mentioned the fact that many unprincipled companies used artificial colorings with toxic chemistry.

2. An interesting way to create a natural color for the food

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Instead of using artificial colors, we can extract colors from nature easily for healthy.

For example, you can get green from pandan to make color for cakes, jelly, tea and some beverages. This natural color product has good durability with high temperatures, especially with pleasant aroma. In addition, you can also extract the green from rattan plant, bamboo, cudweed, katuk...

Brown is indispensable element to make the food more attractive. Housewives often boil refined sugar until they turn brown. Brown is also got from coffee beans, cocoa.

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Some cakes and sticky rice with red, orange, yellow cannot help mentioning spiny bitter gourd, spiny bitter gourd’s core gives scarlet, and it also contains a lot of vitamins which are good for the eyes. Or the yellow from turmeric is also used in processing a lot of food for. Fresh turmeric or turmeric powder give us beautiful yellow. Besides, it also has anti-inflammatory function and prevents many diseases.

In the northern countryside, there is a kind of cake that is associated with our childhood that is black glutinous rice cake. The black of this cake was extracted from ramie leaves. People dried leaves then grind it into flour to use in cooking.

Purple of magenta plants are very good durability with high temperatures, odorless and harmless. Purple from fresh magenta plant always give purple better than magenta plant powder.

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Although using artificial coloring help to save time and give the good color, but you should use natural color for cooking for healthy. Avoid buying food which are contain artificial coloring to protect your family’s health.