We all love them. But why? Why do fatty foods taste so good?
Fats help you enjoy the taste of food because they’re able to dissolve and concentrate flavor and odor chemicals. These chemicals are released into the air by the heat of cooking. That’s why you can taste sizzling bacon even before you eat it – because some of the flavor molecules are already in your nose and mouth.
Fats also help distribute salts and other seasonings throughout foods – such as salad dressings – so that they make more contact with your tongue and give a deeper flavor.
And fatty foods have a special mouth feel. Chocolate, custard, and peanut butter all melt at body temperature. When chocolate melts in your mouth, it creates a smooth, full, coating sensation that most people agree is pleasant.
Finally, our bodies absorb fatty foods at a slower pace than proteins or carbohydrates. Fat makes us feel full. And when we feel full, our brains trigger the release of hormones that also make us feel relaxed and content. The close tie between fat, flavor, fullness, and happiness might be an evolutionary adaptation. Because fat provides more calories by weight than either sugars or proteins, in the past fats might have helped protect the body against starvation and exhaustion.
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