Scientists can’t yet explain why green M&Ms seem to hold seductive powers or why the brown-hued chocolates appear to bring bad luck.
But new research shows that an artificial dye that is chemically similar to the one used in blue M&Ms may hold promise in treating spinal cord injuries, according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The compound, called Brilliant Blue G, was injected into the veins of rats within 15 minutes of their receiving a paralyzing injury. The rats given the BBG solution temporarily turned blue and regained their ability to walk, albeit with a limp. The rats that didn’t receive the dye also recovered, but to a lesser extent than rats that received BBG.
The new findings build on earlier research by the same scientists that showed adenosine triphosphate, a chemical that keeps the body’s cells alive, floods into an area surrounding a spinal cord injury, killing the cells that normally allow us to move.
When BBG was injected, it blocked ATP’s harmful effects at the injury site, according to the researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.
While Americans ingest more than 1 million pounds of the chemically similar FD&C blue dye No. 1 annually, according to the study, upping your M&M intake isn’t likely to do anything but make you fat. But study co-author Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at URMC, says she’s now a big fan of blue M&Ms.
“They are actually doing something that the other colors do not,” she wrote in an e-mail.
Still, human trials are needed before emergency responders start deploying intravenous blue-dye drips.
And during these hot days of August, remember Blue's motto: