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The color decides: Red foods make you hungry
In a recent study, Italian researchers found that the color of food has a major impact on which food we choose. Red therefore makes you hungry because this shade signals the brain a higher nutrient content.
Color of the food plays a role
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute reported years ago on a study that showed that anyone who sees food gets an appetite. At the time, the researchers found that the sight of delicious food increased the concentration of various hormones in the blood that regulate food intake. "A mechanism that could tempt us to eat a piece of cake just two hours after breakfast," says Petra Schüssler from the Max Planck Institute. But the color of the food can also stimulate the appetite, as Italian researchers have now found out.
Assessment of the nutritional value of a food
In a study by the “International School for Advanced Studies” (SISSA) in Trieste, scientists found that the shade of red stimulates our appetite. According to the study, which was published in the scientific reports "Scientific Reports", the brain uses a "color code" to assess the nutritional value of a food.
"According to some theories, our visual system developed to detect particularly nutritious berries, fruits and vegetables in the jungle foliage," said neuroscientist and coordinator of the new study, Raffaella Rumiati, according to a report by Neuroscience News.
Red stands for maturity
Red is a sign of maturity. Fully ripe fruits usually contain more sugar than green specimens, which provide significantly fewer calories. The preference for red food was probably also a survival advantage in ancient times.
"The more reddish an unprocessed food is, the more nutritious it is," said Francesco Foroni from SISSA. "Green foods, on the other hand, tend to contain fewer calories."
Calorie content of red foods higher
The current study showed that our eyes and the processing of the visual impressions are apparently still set to this coding. The subjects in the Italian study almost always rated the calorie content of red food as higher, while green products were considered less rich.
"This also applies to processed or cooked foods in which the color loses its effectiveness as an indicator of calories," said Giulio Pergola from the University of Bari. Scientific studies have shown that cooked foods are preferred to natural foods.
"Cooked foods are always preferred because they contain more nutrients than natural foods in the same amount," says Rumiati. The color in processed food is no longer an indication of the nutrient content. Nevertheless, the old evolutionary mechanism works here. And you could use that.
Color the food red
The findings could help, for example, in marketing food and treating eating disorders. "A lot is being done today to promote healthier eating," said Rumiati. "For example, people try to convince people to eat foods that have fewer calories."
So it would be an idea to give low-calorie foods a shade of red to make them more popular. "Perhaps food coloring could be used to produce significant results, even if they're artificial," said Rumiati.
Colored foods have been experimented with in the United States for a long time. In the future, pink pineapples and purple tomatoes, among other things, are to be available there, which should serve health. However, these plants are genetically modified. (ad)