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The real reason you don’t eat your greens

We may be hardwired to choose red foods over green.
We may be hardwired to choose red foods over green.

Unsplash: Sven Scheuermeier

Turns out, colour helps you decide what to eat.

As children, eating your greens just doesn’t come naturally. Now a study published in the Scientific Reports suggests it’s not your tastebuds to blame for your broccoli-snubbing, but your sight.

Neuroscience shows humans are visual animals – we make sense of the world through our optic nerves. But while the effects of colour on taste and flavour have been explored, the role of colour in food evaluation has received little attention until now.

A feast for the eyes

To test their hypothesis, the researchers at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, asked participants to rate how arousing they perceived food and non‑edible images. Estimated calorie content was also measured.

What they found was that the more bright red in a food image, the greater the arousal it elicits.

Meanwhile, green colouring negatively correlated with arousal. (Think spaghetti bolognese compared with cucumbers).

Red coloured foods were also judged as being higher in calories, while the opposite was true for greens. Greens negatively predicted perceived calorie content, even when corrected for actual calorie content. In other words, we may be hardwired to choose red foods over green.

Crack the colour code

The study concluded that visual inspection of food is central to its evaluation and seems to partially engage the same basic system as non-human primates.

My tip? Mix your red with green veg and take the choice out of it – like red and green coleslaw or vegetable Thai red curry.

This material was produced by Swisse.