Flavor and taste are what makes eating food so enjoyable (believe it or not). However, other characteristics play a role in flavor too – such as aroma, color, temperature, and mouthfeel (texture). Processed foods are known for their artificial flavors, colors, and high amounts of sugar and salt.
All of these processed ingredients actually manipulate your body’s natural appetite – driving you to eat more and crave more junk food. You will definitely notice some changes when you switch to a clean-eating lifestyle.
5 Types Of Taste Receptors
- Sour: The foods natural acidity will stimulate these receptors.
- Salty: Foods containing sodium ions stimulate these receptors.
- Bitter: These specialized taste buds perceive alkaloids (certain amino acids or proteins) in food which causes a bitter flavor. The human body is actually hard-wired to detect bitter taste because many poisonous plants are bitter.
- Sweet: Sugar molecules stimulate your sweet taste receptors on the tongue by using a protein (gustducin) that prompts your brain to recognize the food as sweet.
- Meaty (Umami): Glutamic acid salts (amino acids found in meats, cheeses, and some vegetables) stimulate these receptors.
Spicy and hot flavors don’t actually stimulate taste receptors at all. The nerve endings below the taste buds detect spiciness and send “pain” signals to the brain. For example, if you were to eat a chili pepper, it takes a moment for your tongue to register the spiciness and heat.
Processed foods use artificial ingredients to stimulate many receptors, while clean foods activate your taste receptors without any help from fake junk. Let’s go over some foods and what their flavors are…
List Of Clean Foods & Their Flavors (Including Spicy)
Sour: Yogurt, pomegranates, tamarind, apples, oranges, strawberries, lemons, limes, tea, vinegar, mint, & natural cheeses.
Salty: Kelp, pickled foods, lemons, limes, kale, asparagus, lean meats, nuts, soy products, shellfish, & natural cheeses.
Bitter: Spinach and dark greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, grapefruit, eggplant, tea, vinegar, kale, asparagus, & kohlrabi.
Sweet: Bananas, mangoes, melons, agave nectar, honey, apples, oranges, strawberries, cooked onions, carrots, & tomatoes.
Meaty: Mushrooms, cooked onions, carrots, tomatoes, lean meats, soy products, shellfish, nuts, miso, & natural cheeses.
Spicy: Peppers, herbs, spices, radishes, garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, mint, miso, & kohlrabi.
TIP: Try choosing foods that use more than one flavor to enhance your eating experience.
Taste isn’t the only important factor that impacts flavor experience – color, texture, smell, and temperature also play a role. Use all of your body’s natural flavor-detecting abilities to truly appreciate your food.
6 Tips For Enhanced Eating Experience
Make meals with different temperatures. The diversity between hot and cold can enhance any meal. A cold salad with a hot steak, a hot avocado brownie with a scoop of cold vanilla bean ice cream, or a grilled chicken sandwich with some cold pesto. Eating only hot (or only cold) foods for all your meals can get repetitive.
Eat slower. Chewing more slowly gives your taste buds adequate time to detect the flavors and aromas being released. Chewing actually stimulates your sense of smell by releasing flavors into the back of your mouth.
Smell your food before you dig in. No, you don’t have to take a huge whiff of every bite you bring to your mouth, but you should give yourself a second to smell the flavors on your plate.
Put away the table salt. Most people have become so used to salt (because it’s on/in literally everything nowadays) that they have to use more to satisfy the salt cravings. Your food might taste bland at first, but your taste buds will gradually adjust and the natural flavors will increase.
Load your plate up with colors. It’s been said that you eat with your eyes before you eat with your mouth – and it’s true! Imagine biting into a pale-yellow banana with brown spots. Now, imagine you’re biting into a bright, perfectly ripe banana. Just thinking about it made a difference. Cook more fruits and vegetables to make your meals more appetizing. As an added bonus, you will give your body better nutrients too!
Create meals with different mouthfeel (textures). Throw in foods that are smooth, soft, crispy, chewy, and hard. An entire meal that is hard and chewy can be boring, and your jaw may give up before your stomach wants to.