Food study: Now red means go, green means stop

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If you don’t like eating green vegetables, you aren’t alone. Even President George H.W. Bush famously once declared that because he was president, he didn’t have to eat broccoli anymore. Now, scientists might give you a pass if you shun leafy greens.

A study that was published in the November 2016 Scientific Reports explains how we’re hard-wired to prefer red foods for their high caloric and nutritional value over green foods, based on a visual color code.

“According to some theories, our visual system evolved to easily identify particularly nutritious berries, fruits and vegetables from jungle foliage,” says Raffaella Rumiati, who is a neuroscientist at International School for Advanced Studies and coordinator of the study.

However, Donna Parsons, who is the director of Child Nutrition Services for the state of Washington, says she isn’t convinced that the theory is valid, because calories and nutrition come from foods of all colors.

Parsons points out that in 2010, the National School Lunch Program set guidelines that require schools to serve meals that have a variety of colors (red/orange, yellow and the much-maligned green) via fruits and vegetables. Parsons says the change was made to give children a variety of nutrients and calories according to age, not because children necessarily wouldn’t eat green vegetables.