Eating Well

Putting On Weight? Blame Your Taste Buds

Here’s yet another thing you can blame for those extra pounds: your taste buds. Researchers at Cornell University are convinced that people whose taste buds are dulled tend to eat more sweets and higher calorie food. A Cornell news release reports that researchers at the school gave a test group an herbal tea with low, medium or high concentrations of a naturally occurring herb, Gymnema Sylvestre, which is known to temporarily block sweet receptors. Participants added their favored levels of sweetness to bland concoctions. Here’s what they found: Without realizing it, the test group gravitated to 8 to 12 percent sucrose. Soft drinks are generally around 10 percent sugar. “That’s not a coincidence,” said lead author Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science. But those participants with their taste receptors blocked began to prefer higher concentrations of sugar. “Others have suggested that the overweight may have a reduction in their perceived intensity of taste. So, if an overweight or obese person has a diminished sense of taste, our research shows that they may begin to seek out more intense stimuli to attain a satisfactory level of reward,” explained Dando, who thinks that can influence their eating habits to compensate for a lower taste response. The study showed that for a regular, sugary 16-ounce soft drink, a person with a 20 percent reduction in the ability to taste sweet would crave an extra teaspoon of sugar to reach an optimal level of sweetness, as compared to someone with unaltered taste response.

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