A salty pretzel, a sweet ice cream cone, a sour, vinegary pickle: most of us relish the variety of flavours we experience when we eat, courtesy of our sense of taste. What many don't know, however, is that the experience of taste is highly amplified for some members of the population, known as "supertasters." This may sound amazing, but supertasters actually tend to avoid certain foods due to their increased sensitivity to strong flavours, including anything bitter and many healthy fruits and vegetables. On the other hand, individuals known as "non-tasters" have significantly decreased sensitivity to flavour, making it difficult for them to taste food at all. Unfortunately, this can cause problems, such as when they cannot detect when food has spoilt or is unsafe to eat.
Thought for Food Blog
Christmas is a distant memory. For some of us, the annual mission undertaken by chocolate, mince pies, brandy butter and yule log to convert themselves into excess body fat has been a success. Once again we find ourselves in post-yuletide gloom, with weight to lose and fitness to gain.
We all know that New Year resolutions are made to be broken. As the fireworks break out and we blow up what is definitely our last supersized bag of crisps of the season with a salty bang, it’s all too easy to go online and sign up to membership of the local gym. It’s also not that difficult to declare that alcohol will not touch our lips for the foreseeable future and filling up our supermarket trolleys with healthy stuff, including items disregarded in the approach to Christmas (and possibly at most other times of the year too), such as celery and low fat cottage cheese, requires little in the way of moral fibre when we’re still feeling bloated and slightly nauseous due to our recent excesses.
Stevia is the name given to extracts from leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana used as sweeteners or sugar substitutes. The two main compounds responsible for the sweetness of stevia are stevioside and rebaudioside A, both of which are derivatives of the diterpene, steviol.
- Stevioside is 250-300 times sweeter than sugar, but possesses a bitter aftertaste.
- Rebaudioside A is 350-450 times sweeter than sugar and is less bitter than stevioside, making it a popular option for use in sweetener preparations.
Christmas means different things to different people. For children, of course, it means presents and the magic of the festive season, for the spiritual, it’s a time for prayer and reflection and for the exhausted, it’s an opportunity to hibernate and watch all the box sets that have accumulated during the year.
But most of us have one thing in common. The festive season gives us an excuse to stuff our faces with as much food as we possibly can. Some of this food is ok. Turkey and sprouts, for example, are fine, upstanding healthy foods. But a great deal of our yuletide intake consists of sugary and salty snacks that at best make us put on weight and at worst may lead to one or more of the various unpleasant conditions that come under the umbrella of the metabolic syndrome. And because it’s Christmas, we allow ourselves to eat both good and bad food in humungous quantities.