Brain Uses Colors To Help Us Choose What To Eat, Says Study

Posted: Nov 15 2016, 11:58am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Brain Uses Colors to Help Us Choose What to Eat, Says Study
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Food color helps us decide whether or not to eat something

How do people decide what they want to eat? Vision is the main sense that helps humans to make healthier food choices. But a new research goes one step further and reveals that humans rely on colors to determine food quality and its critical features such as calorie content.

“According to some theories, our visual system evolved to easily identify particularly nutritious berries, fruits and vegetables from jungle foliage. We are particularly efficient at distinguishing red from green,” said co- researcher Raffaella Rumiati, International School of Advanced Studies SISSA neuroscientist and coordinator of the new study. 

“It is mainly the color of food that guides us…To date, only a few studies have been focused on the topic.”

Trichromacy is a special feature of human vision system which means our eyes are sensitive to three primary colors: red, green and blue, in particular the sets of pigments in our eyes can clearly differentiate red and green variations. This implies that we can see a large number of colors than animals that can use only one or two colors to evaluate food.

Previous researches have shown that colors help determine the taste of a food item. To evaluate nutrients, calories content and proteins levels in a food, humans also use vision. 

The evolutionary advantage would reside in the fact that reddish fruits and food generally indicate higher energy or greater protein content. In line with this idea, humans tend to make decisions about food and show a preference for food with more reddish tint. And experimental evidence also supports this idea.

In the latest study, researchers have hypothesized that the arousal in humans and calorie estimation of a food is biased by red or green colors. To test their hypotheses, they asked participants to rate how arousing they perceived a large set of food and non-food images and expected that participants involved in the study would prefer red- over green-looking food.

“The redder an unprocessed food is, the more likely it is to be nutritious, while green foods tend to be low in calorie. The participants in our experiments judged foods whose color tented toward red as higher in calories, while was the opposite was true for the green,” said lead author of study Francesco Foroni.

“This is also true for processed or cooked foods, where color loses its effectiveness as an indicator of calories."

The study was published in journal Scientific Reports.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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