The wonders and benefits of colour

What inspires me to write about this topic now are the Autumn colours of course – wow and there still there, not for long though! The joy of being outside on a sunny autumn day is always enhanced if you can be mindful. Focussing on colours is one way you can do this, rather than looking at all the leaves on the floor and thinking that’s another job sweeping up leaves, I haven’t got time because I’ve got x, y, and z on my to do list; instead just really focus on those colours and textures of autumn. What amazed me on my many trips down the phoenix trail, near where I live, was how bright green the nettles were! You see if you stay in the present you might just be surprised at what you see. What’s more this sort of mindful activity is a perfect antidote to life’s stress. Benefits of being in nature have been researched and just a 15-minute walk in a forest compared to a city was shown to increase vigour, energy and improve mood. (1)

I’ve known for a while now, nutritionally the importance of colour in food, but it was only when I came to write this blog I started to think what psychological effect it has.

“Colour is the single most important product-intrinsic sensory cue when it comes to setting people’s expectations regarding the likely taste and flavour of food and drink.”(2)

Much research in the area is based on adding food colouring and observing its effect, however understanding is often taken from our ancestors primeval need to identify ripe and nutritious food versus bad. Evolution gave humans and some other primates an advantage of trichromatic vision or red blue green vision thus enabling an advantage in finding and identifying nutritious food.

In todays environment we don’t always look for or recognise what is nutritious and good for us. Instead we crave for food which gives us a short-term release of endorphins and satisfaction linked to the high calorie and often high sugar content. Strangely the widely available processed food is generally not that colourful, perhaps why food manufacturers have to consider food colourings!

The key to colour in food is that it is there because of the phytonutrients present, which include polyphenols and these micronutrients are being connected with health and prevention of degenerative diseases. (3) … “Polyphenols offer great hope for the prevention of chronic human diseases” …

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