Published on: Thursday, 20 September 2012 20:51:00.
At birth, humans only appreciate the flavors sweet and umami (this means meaty/savory and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with glutamate, as is often falsely claimed). Sour and bitter are rejected. This ensures that breast milk tastes good to us, since it delivers the essential nutrients lactose (sweet) and protein and fat (umami). These preferences can change in the course of life or through a culturally-distinct learning process, but nature has given us humans a general preference for foods that nourish us especially well. Early in human history, consuming lots of fat and sugar in times of abundance was how our ancestors prepared for periods of hunger.
In our affluent society, this mechanism has become a problem. If we eat a lot of fat and sweets, we get fat!
We can easily get the taste of sweetness using artificial sweeteners, but that doesn't really help with weight loss. Our bodies are trained so that if a sweet taste raises our blood glucose level, insulin is produced as a precaution. Now we use artificial sweeteners instead of real sugar, so instead of raising our blood glucose, we lower it. A dramatic situation! If a saber-toothed tiger came after us now, we couldn't run away. The body responds in the only logical way: we get hungry.
We can see that low-calorie sweeteners really aren't a good solution for weight problems. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sweeteners cause hunger, and therefore are also used on farms.
With protein and fat, the situation is totally different. If you give them up, flavor suffers. This is not just because the taste of umami (Japanese for "pleasant taste) occurs only in fat and protein-rich foods, but because fat conveys flavor. Flavors - both artificial and natural - are only soluble in fat, not in water. This is how the English kitchen gets its reputation: as we know from "Asterix in Britannia", the English prefer to cook everything in hot water without fat or oil.
Everybody knows: Without a delicious Hollandaise or at least some butter, asparagus has no taste whatsoever.
It's hard to find a way around this dilemma. For this reason, some nutritional gurus recommend that we just get used to less flavor.
Personally, I enjoy food too much to accept that. I think lots of people feel the same way, and that is the reason why "Delicious Low Carb" exists. Living a low-carb lifestyle, you no longer have to worry about calories. With a bit of butter or cream, everything tastes much more intense. I know the craving you get for sweets, but after a year it's much lower. For me, this was the ideal solution:
Stay fit and healthy - but eat delicious food!
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