Friday, September 7, 2012

The Sixth Sense and How To Outsmart It

Growing up, we learned that our tongue could sense four different tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Did you know there could be many, many more? Molecular biologists have theorized that humans may have up to 20 receptors on their tongues for tastes such as calcium, carbonation, starch and even water. Most recently, one that stands out from the rest (with a growing body of evidence) is fat. That's the sixth. The fifth, by the way, is for savory foods. Anyway...it's long been known that fat has a certain mouth-feel. That's why we enjoy it so much! Think about the difference between regular ice cream and fat-free or the difference between regular ground beef and the leanest. Which do you naturally prefer?

Researchers at [our local] Washington University have discovered that the receptor CD36 is related to a sensitivity to fats. Those who make more of this receptor are better able to detect the presence of fats in food; 8 times more sensitive to it, in fact, than those who make half the amount of CD36.

So some of us could be genetically predisposed to having an insensitivity to the taste of fats, which could cause increased consumption of fatty foods. This is what researchers plan to look at next. Does the ability to detect fat in food influence our fat intake? If so, a lack of this receptor could have an impact on obesity. Previous tests of the CD36 receptor in animals have shown that eating more fat leads to less production of the receptor. And as people eat more fat, it is possible they need more to satisfy their cravings.

Although more research is needed, my advise is to cut the fat now! If you are accustomed to a high-fat diet, it might take a transition period to allow your taste buds to "adapt" to the mouth-feel, texture and now, taste, of lower-fat alternatives. It can be done. Your taste buds can "learn" that lower fat foods are just as appealing. Here are some tips to make the transition:
  • Boost flavor in food by using herbs and spices
  • Prepare rice or cous cous with low-sodium chicken broth versus water and butter
  • Gradually transition from whole milk to 2% milk to 1% and then to skim
  • Buy leaner cuts of meat and cook them using moist heat, like in the crockpot. They stay super tender!
  • Use half ground beef and half ground turkey breast in meat dishes, like chili
  • Use ham or Canadian bacon at breakfast instead of bacon and sausage. For lunches, opt for chicken, turkey, ham or lean roast beef instead of bologna, salami and hot dogs.
  • Use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream
  • Buy reduced-fat versions of cream, cream cheese and hard cheeses
  • Use strongly flavored cheese, like blue cheese, goat cheese and feta. You can use less and get the same flavor.
  • Cut down on dining out. Think of your favorite meals and try to make them at home. Love burgers and fries? Grill a burger at home made from lean beef (at least 90%) and make french fries in the oven by slicing a potato, mixing it with herbs and olive oil, and baking at 450 on a cookie sheet.

And not all fat is out. In fact some of it is very healthy. But some fats, those coming from animal sources in particular and that are prevalent in fast foods, can be harmful to your heart if eaten in excess. Use healthy fats to add flavor to food too, just go easy on the portion size:
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Olive oil
  • Reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Spreadable tub margarines

Source: Mail Online; Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net