Soon, veggies to tempt your taste budsPublished On: Sun, Aug 7th, 2011 | Mental Health | By BioNews
Psychologists are trying to improve our experiences of eating healthy foods by working out ways on how growers can breed them to taste better.
Linda Bartoshuk, a pioneering researcher at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste, has started with the tomato. She has done studies to learn which compounds in the tomato enhance palatability and which lower it.
“What the studies produced was a road map to making a tomato taste better. The goal is to grow the plants so you produce more of the good stuff and less of the bad,” Live Science quoted Bartoshuk as saying.
Other attempts to tinker with the taste of fruits and vegetables have been hampered by an improper assessment of the way food tastes, Bartoshuk said.
“One of the reasons that we have failed to do things better in the food world is that we”ve been measuring things incorrectly,” Bartoshuk told in an interview before her presentation.
For their studies, Bartoshuk and colleagues grew 80 varieties of tomatoes and measured their chemical components. Then they had 100 people taste and rate the samples.
To get around these differences, Bartoshuk and her colleagues asked study participants to compare the taste of food to something unrelated to taste, such as the loudness of a sound.
Bartoshuk said people”s concept of the ideal tomato was different for different groups — for instance, women generally like tomatoes to be sweeter.
While she doesn”t anticipate that growers will cultivate tomatoes specifically for, say, women or supertasters, it might be possible to grow foods that suit the palates of people in different countries.
In this respect, cultivating foods would be similar to the way beverage companies alter the flavorings of their products depending on the country, she said.
The study was recently presented at the American Psychological Association”s annual meeting in Washington.