London: Fat can reduce activity in several brain areas responsible for processing taste, aroma and reward, says the first ever study on the subject.
The research, carried out by the Britain`s University of Nottingham and food major Unilever, provides the food industry with better understanding of how in the future it might be able to make healthier, less fatty food products without affecting their overall taste and enjoyment.
This three-year study investigated how the brains of a group of participants in their 20s would respond to changes in the fat content of four different fruit emulsions they tasted while under an MRI scanner, the journal Chemosensory Perception reports.
All four samples were of the same thickness and sweetness, but one contained flavour with no fat, while the other three contained fat with different flavour release properties, according to a Nottingham statement.
The areas of the participants` brains which are responsible for the perception of flavour, were significantly more activated when the non-fatty sample was tested compared to the fatty emulsions despite having the same flavour perception.
Joanne Hort, associate professor in sensory science at Nottingham said: "This is the first brain study to assess the effect of fat on the processing of flavour perception."
Unilever food scientist Johanneke Busch, based in Vlaardingen, Netherlands, added: "There is more to people`s enjoyment of food than the product`s flavour, like its mouthfeel, its texture and whether it satisfies hunger, so this is a very important building block for us to better understand how to innovate and manufacture healthier food products which people want to buy."