New Additives Make Healthy Food Taste as Good as Junk Food

Nov. 5, 2008
Flavor modulators stimulate specific pathways into the brain

Scientists at San Diego-based Senomyx and The Redpoint Bio Corp., Ewing, N.J., have come up with an idea that will make healthy foods taste just as good as their fattening counterparts. The companies have received patents on ways to convince the brain that we are consuming foods that are far sweeter or saltier than they actually are, reports Scientific American. They are working with Nestle, Cadbury and Coca-Cola to develop healthy yet appealing products.

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

Cadbury will use Senomyx flavor modulators next year, while Redpoint is working with Coca-Cola to improve the taste of its sugar-free drinks. Meanwhile, Senomyx is also designing bitterness blockers that should make medicines or less palatable foods such as broccoli taste better.

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.