Professional chefs understand how important food presentation is for the success of a meal. One element of the eating experience that can be under estimated however, is the effect of color. Scientific studies have shown that the color of the food and the eating environment effect appetite, often in a significant way.
Have you ever noticed that restaurants frequently make use of the colors red, orange and gold? These colors will be prominently used on the walls and furnishing, for instance, as they are thought to be appetite stimulants. Many companies use red in their company logo to draw upon the association of a good appetite with that color with the Coca-Cola emblem as a prime example.
Blue, on the other hand, has been shown to suppress appetite. In a room with blue walls people eat significantly less than those in a neutral environment. One explanation of this effect is there are few naturally occurring blue foods. The instinct then evolved that if food has a blue color it is unfit for consumption. Some birds and lizards make use of this natural aversion by adapting prominent blue coloration to ward off predators.
The power of blue color in nature is assured by special adaptations within our body. The blue portion of the spectrum is so important the eye has special receptors for this color light. The sensitivity of the eye to blue light allows this color to be the most powerful in terms of setting body rhythms (circadian rhythm) and research shows that it can stimulate brain chemicals that improve mood, sleep and alertness.
Colors that are thought to increase appetite are from the opposite end of the spectrum from blue. Think red, yellow, orange. You may notice that in restaurants with Asian influences these colors will often be found on the walls, table cloth and ornaments. .Within the article on bioflavonoids found on our website, metabolsim.com, it is pointed out that foods high in these exceptionally healthful nutrients exhibit these exact colors. It makes sense that in the course of evolution our body learned to read the message contained in colors before we could use written language to indicate what foods to consume or avoid.