The effect that color has on how we taste is something everyone inherently senses, but most of us take for granted. Think about candies you ate as a kid where the artificial coloring didn’t matched the flavo—it was a jarring experience. And think about the foods that jump out to you as fresh and bright versus the ones that look dull and insipid, even before you’ve gotten close enough to smell them.

In The Guardian, Amy Fleming delves deeper into the importance of color in food, looking into a few interesting studies that suggest its prominent role in guiding our other senses.

A lot of the experiments that have been conducted come down to tricking people with misleading visual cues. For examples, white wine dyed red caused 54 enology students at the University of Bordeaux to attribute characteristics of red wine—like a nose of chocolate and tobacco—to the vino. And Oxford experimental psychologist Charles Spense fooled subjects into thinking they were eating salt and vinegar crisps instead of cheese and onion merely by switching the bag.

Color can also affect perceptions of how hungry you are: “People will wolf down more from a mixed bowl than they will from a bowl full of their favourite colour alone.”

All of this could have fascinating ramifications for the way we think about food. For example, rather than going the South Beach route, perhaps the best diet would be to surround yourself with food that doesn’t visually stimulate you.

[via The Guardian]