The findings of several studies on the digestive system have already showed that the visual aspect of the food that we eat has a pivotal influence on the absorption of nutrients by our body. In particular, the color of food affects how our organism reacts to it once it has been swallowed and located into the stomach. In more general terms, our body is stimulated and directed to different reactions, according to the colors of the food, and nothing seems to happen by chance. For example, green vegetables are able to regulate the blood pressure and induce a state of calm, enhancing those properties thanks to their color, which predisposes preliminarily the body to a quieter condition, acting on visual receptors and consequently on our brain. Another shining example comes from beta-carotene: the intense orange color of many foods rich in this pro-vitamin is able to set up our mind (and subsequently our body) on a hyper-sensitive, proactive state, which is exactly the best condition to adsorb this nutrient.
On the basis of these empirical researches, the studies concerning the practice of food colouring, its implications and its relationship with our body’s reaction have been given a significant boost, until they became, throughout the last decade, one of the most interesting branches of food science. The results have led the whole food industry to reconsider the role of food dyes within its market system. Once considered on a par with other mere “amusements” related to some specific types of food (in most cases: pastries, cakes, candies and many other confectionery products), food coloring has stepped out of such a narrow scope, to become an actual player in nutrition schemes, exploiting its ability to stimulate different reactions in the human body.
This is the main reason why the food industry has invested a remarkable amount of money to improve the quality of this product. The results of such investments are now clearly visible: nowadays, the food dyers coming out from the major and most renowned brands specialized in this kind of products are comparable to the best “quality food” that we can currently serve on our table. More specifically, we can spot the following characteristics.
- Food colouring products are predominantly natural. Most of them (the exceptions are very few) come from raw materials of vegetable or animal origin.
- They are flavor enhancers. There was a time when most of the people believed that food dyers can alter the natural flavor of food. Quite the opposite, contemporary products can affect the taste experience in only one way: making the food’s taste clearer, stronger and more persistent.
- They only dye food. Forget about having your tongue or teeth painted in some picturesque color for hours, as it used to happen with the first, rudimentary products. The most recent creations are able to dye only food, while they’re absolutely innocuous for the human tissues and – maybe even more important – for our clothes. Which means: no more indelible stains.
- They are affordable. It may seem a negligible reason but it’s not. How’s it possible that such a revolutionary product could be sold at such low prices? Plain and simple: the food industry has decided to work on large numbers, in order to promote the use of food colouring in the shortest possible time. Just a marketing strategy, then? In any case, it’s worth taking advantage of it.