It depends primarily on a combination of taste and texture to understand why people prefer some foods over others. Scientists are just starting to unravel the mystery of food texture, though taste sensations are reasonably well understood why we love ice cream and other food so much.
There’s A Scientific Reason Why We Really, Really Love Ice Cream
Researchers have found that an enzyme called amylase in saliva, which breaks down starch into a simple liquid sugar solution, might play a key role in evaluating the attractiveness of different food textures. A recent genetic study shows that people develop substantially different levels of amylase and that the more people have the enzyme in their mouth, the quicker starchy foods can be liquefied.
Scientists suggest that this result could help understand why people view food as creamy or slimy, sticky or watery, and why our food tastes could be influenced by this interpretation. What may feel correct to some individuals is experienced as too runny or not melting enough for others because they generate different quantities of the enzyme for the various foods containing starch, including pudding, sauces, and even maple syrup.
Only one part of the equation that decides what people want to eat is the ability to rapidly break down starch, which is a form of carbohydrate. A complex relationship between taste buds and other receptors in the mouth and nose, and the signals they send to the brain, drives taste preferences. Culture plays a part, as individuals appear to like common foods. And repetition can often win out: several individuals, for example, initially don’t like oysters because of their slimy texture, but can come to love them after many attempts.
We all have had the experience of enjoying food that is too tacky, or slippery, or gritty, or pulpy, someone else complains. This is why a given product line also comes in various textural types with and without pulp, such as orange juice.
Starch contains or is added to about 60 percent of foods that people usually consume, so it is important to consider food-texture preferences to decide how it is digested. Other research has shown that people enjoy smooth sensations as well as foods such as ice cream and chocolate that start off hard and melt in the mouth. For example, since they contain varying quantities of added starch, amylase may also help clarify consumer preferences for various brands of ice cream or yogurt.
The role of amylase and the rate of breakdown of starch has consequences for diabetes as well. People who quickly digest starch may be more likely to have greater blood-sugar spikes and therefore a need for more insulin to be released by the body. If the body’s ability to produce insulin breaks down, this continued demand on the body might lead these individuals to become insulin resistant or even diabetic.
Amylase and other saliva enzymes might also help to clarify preferences for food textures that are known to differ with age. For example, because of a perceived slimness, many young children hate such fruits; think of the inside of tomatoes (and yes, tomato is both a fruit and a vegetable, ladies, and gentlemen). But with age, the saliva-flow rate of people continues to slow, which might affect their ability to break down the starch in the mouth and reduce feelings of slimness.
Another factor in food preferences: People differ in their ability to perceive other textures, such as fat, and bitter and sweet tastes, potentially based on genetics. In a study, it was shown that adults with a gene that makes bitter tastes more intense eat less bitter compounded vegetables, such as kale or spinach.
But the genetic preference can be altered by repeatedly exposing the person to the taste or by masking the bitterness, even at an early age. A sweet taste was introduced to balance out the bitterness of some vegetables in a preliminary study with pre-schoolers, less than half a teaspoon of sugar to a cup of broccoli or asparagus, for example, during cooking, and found that the greens were more welcomed by the kids. The children still enjoyed the vegetables more than before, even though the sweetness was withdrawn because they had formed a positive connection with them. It suggests that people should concentrate and make it work for them on what they want to eat.
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But without the intervention of Science, there are two possible reasons why, in any case, we really love ice cream:
First, it melts in the mouth (similar to chocolate), and it’s refreshing on a hot summer’s day. It also has a myriad of flavor options and it can be combined with other delicious foods like hot waffles or a freshly-baked fruit pie. And lastly, ice cream is enjoyed by children and adults alike. So many people have a lifelong love of ice cream associated with happy memories of their childhood and special occasions like birthdays or family celebrations.
Here’s “Ice Cream” from BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez for you!
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