Do you crave processed foods such as fries, sausages, bacon, ham or ready meals? The answer lies in your brain. A new study by Yale University in the US shows that the human brain values foods that are high in both fat and carbohydrates, rather than just fat or carbohydrates.
Fats and carbs tend to hijack the body’s inborn signals governing food consumption. Thus, our brain’s rewarding system — group of neural structure responsible for motivation, desire, craving for reward — is more likely to chose them, a reason why people feel difficulty in losing or keeping off excess weight, the researchers explained.
“Surprisingly, foods containing fats and carbohydrates appear to signal their potential caloric loads to the brain via distinct mechanisms,” said Dana Small. “Our study shows that when both nutrients are combined, the brain seems to overestimate the energetic value of the food,” Small added.
The study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, analysed data from 206 adults. The participants underwent brain scans while being shown photographs of familiar snacks containing mostly fat, mostly sugar, and a combination of fat and carbohydrates and were allocated a small amount of money to bid on their first-choice food.
The results showed that the participants were willing to pay more for foods that combined fat and carbohydrates. The results may help explain brain-body mechanisms underlying the genetic predisposition for obesity, eating in the absence of hunger, and difficulty losing or keeping off excess weight.