The path to healthy eating includes alternative proteins and your nose

Seubert uses brain scans to compare physiological responses to familiar and unfamiliar food tastes. It allows you to understand the emotional processes that draw people to familiar foods and what happens when people start to like something new.

He discovered that unlike commonly disliked tastes such as bitterness, the positive or negative association of odors with certain foods can be learned over time. People prefer aromas that are traditionally associated with satisfying tastes – for example, sweet, which indicates the presence of carbohydrates.

“If we can’t identify a smell as a particular food, we don’t like it very much,” said Seubert of Germany. According to him, people tend to compare alternative food products with existing familiar products, and as a result, initially find unfamiliar products undesirable.

Seubert cites the example of oat milk: People may initially perceive it as a variant of milk with the “wrong smell,” and they drink too much of it before they begin to prefer the alternative.

Their research indicates that people are more sensitive to new odors when they are hungry, helping to determine how readily the food intake environment can be accepted. Seubert’s lab investigates how changing the external environment, for example by providing a pleasant atmosphere or increasing knowledge about the origin of a new taste, can speed up acceptance.

One of its next steps is to use these contextual variables to evaluate the potential consumption of protein derived from mealworm larvae. “In my lab, we study the influence of internal factors, such as hunger, and external factors, such as prior knowledge of the development of a taste for the smell of insect protein foods,” Seibert said.

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Worms are rich in protein and can be consumed cooked, raw or in powdered form. Currently, they are mainly used as food for birds and other animals that eat insects and worms.

Microalgae and single cell proteins are also processed into powders rich in proteins, minerals and vitamins.

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