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Why The Term “Hyperpalatable” is Pseudoscience and Why Healthy Foods Should be Tasty

  • By Fahad Ahmad
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Why The Term “Hyperpalatable” is Pseudoscience and Why Healthy Foods Should be Tasty

Can food be too tasty to the point that it becomes unhealthy for you? That's the reasoning used by several authors and writers to paint a bulls-eye on various packaged goods. Even at Ketogeek, our first versions of Energy Pod were intentionally made to be "less tasty" by reducing sweeteners and thereby "reducing" palatability.

The notion of 'hyperpalatability' suggests that if something tastes good, individuals will likely eat large amounts of it which will increase energy intake. However, studies on humans do not support this notion.

For instance, sensory-specific satiety, the diminished pleasure associated with eating the same food, has been studied in humans to be similar in lean and obese individuals. That's the problem with mechanistic and rodent studies that are primarily used to substantiate 'too tasty' being a problem in food: these studies don't always translate well into humans. The notion of sensory-specific satiety is similar to how you'd go to your grandmother's dinner with tasty foods but if you ate that food often, you'd eventually get tired of it. Hence, it's safe to assume that something being 'tasty' isn't the issue between lean and obese individuals.

Additionally, we also know from human studies that the human palate adapts based on frequency and amount of flavor stimuli. This fact, along with various cuisines across the planet having various flavor profiles and various outcomes for obesity, negates the importance and practicality of a solution that aims to 'reduce' the palatability of foods across the globe.

Knowing all this, food being 'too tasty' or 'hyperpalatable' isn't the problem. If anything, healthy food should taste very good. The notion that something is 'too tasty' is embedded in fear of obtaining comfort and pleasure from food. Other biological drives such as sex for reproduction or drinking water when thirsty inherently evolved to favor positive outcomes when it comes to human survival. That's why we evolved our senses of taste, sight, touch, and smell.
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