What makes food taste artificial

Food affair

The play of colors knows no bounds here Photo Reuters

Let's start with a thought experiment: in front of you are two different types of biscuits. One type is spelled and the other is chocolate chip cookies with a caramel icing. Which variety do you think tastes better? You probably tap the chocolate chip cookies intuitively - with which you would have succumbed to the Unhealthy = Tasty intuition. The idea that something unhealthy tastes good per se, even a lot better than healthy, is not only widespread, we are practically trained in this belief system from an early age. According to the motto: If you have eaten your portion of broccoli well, you will get a custard as a reward! And if you add a piece of paprika, you can eat as much custard as you want! First the agony, then the pleasure. How are children supposed to learn to love vegetables when it is suggested to them that eating carrots and Brussels sprouts is an annoying necessity and that the best always comes last?

Numerous studies show that just announcing that you are being served healthy food lowers taste expectations. In the “Mango Lassi Experiment” at the University of Texas, test participants rated a lassi as less tasty if they had been given the information beforehand that it was a healthy drink. If, on the other hand, its high calorie count was emphasized, the testers praised its taste. That we're genetically programmed to love sugar and fat doesn't make things any easier. The only beneficiary is the food industry. It capitalizes on what we are made of and prepares food. Steven Whitley, author of the book “Why Humans like Junk Food”, speaks of “dynamic contrast”. Light and dark, sweet and salty, crispy and silky are particularly stimulating for the brain. We love dishes that warm up in the mouth and crunch up heartily. An example of ultimate taste is cheese nachos, true horns of plenty of flavor enhancing additives, including sugar, salt, glutamate, citric acid, chilli, onion, garlic powder and various dairy products. Unhealthy tastes, brings a brief energy kick and variety. The brain stores this information and provides us with all motivational resources to procure junk food. Even at night, when all supermarkets are closed, the drive leads to the gas station.

The good taste of the French

Can the taste expectations be influenced in any way under these circumstances? Yes, through education, among other things. Researchers at the University of Kiel were able to show that with increasing health awareness, the basic assumption that healthy foods taste worse than unhealthy ones dwindles. But: Anyone who demonstratively advertises the health effects of a product is mistaken that rationality beats taste. The researchers write: "The influence of automatically activated taste associations cannot be changed even by increased health awareness." The assumption that is to be influenced that it is a healthy food cannot easily be extended to the fact that it is also eaten with pleasure . Despite this knowledge, there is no reason to be disillusioned. In France, surprisingly, the opposite of unhealthy = tasty intuition applies. In other words, better taste is expected from healthy foods. Researchers at the University of Grenoble attribute this primarily to the French's awareness of quality. Instead of using artificial flavors, there are more chefs working with herbs and spices, fresh garlic and shallots. Ingredients for salads are cleverly combined, lemon peel and coriander, for example, with tomatoes, cut into tiny cubes so that flavors unfold on the tongue immediately. Conclusion: In order to cheat the unhealthy = tasty intuition, you don't have to move to France straight away, it is enough to be inspired by French cuisine.


To the book: https://www.hanser-literaturverlage.de/buch/die-kunst-des-klugen-essens/978-3-446-44875-9/




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Why something unhealthy tastes so good

From Melanie Mühl

We love sweets and believe that anything high in calories tastes fantastic too - a mistake with grave consequences.

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