"Trick and Treat" Your Brain- Healthy Foods to Satisfy Your Cravings!

by Tanya Thomas on Aug 11 2008 9:06 AM

The proof of the pudding is in the tricking! Yes, the old adage may soon require some changing if a group of American scientists have their way. These researchers have come up with an innovative idea which may make “healthy” foods as mouth-watering as their fat-loaded counterparts!

It’s common knowledge that cakes, burgers and pizzas hike cholesterol levels but we can’t help but succumb to these cravings time and again. Now these scientists claim that healthy foods, when injected with certain chemicals, can trick the brain into believing that we are actually eating the “bad” foods we crave.

Now two U.S. companies, who are developing ways of creating low-fat products that taste as good as the salty food we crave, have won new patents on ways to convince the brain we are consuming foods that are far sweeter or saltier than they actually are, reports the Telegraph.

The firms are working with Cadburys and Coca-Cola to develop healthy yet appealing products.

The new research is focused on compounds called flavor modulators which, when added to food in tiny amounts, stimulate specific pathways into the brain that trigger a response normally linked to eating tasty food.

Most humans are genetically disposed to crave fattening food because, for millions of years, it was in short supply.

However, the present over-abundance of calorie-laden food puts current generations at risk of obesity.

San Diego firm Senomyx will have its flavor modulators used in Cadbury products from next year and is also designing bitterness blockers that should make medicines or less palatable foods such as broccoli taste better.

The Redpoint Bio Corporation in New Jersey is working with Coca-Cola to improve the taste of its sugar-free drinks.

Decreasing the bitterness of healthy food could help the estimated one in four adults for whom taste sensations are magnified, putting them off foods such as green vegetables which are known to protect against cancer.

The research is published in the journal Scientific American.