When it comes to a choice between sweet or savoury, it’s often a case of chocolate or cheese.
And according to a US study, humans will choose carbohydrate-rich chocolate over cheese when the option is presented.
Dana Small at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, performed a study where volunteers were asked to put monetary bids on a variety of different foods.
They found that the volunteers would place higher bids on things like cake, chocolate and sugary treats over savoury snacks like cheese.
Furthermore, the researchers carried out brain scans of the volunteers and found there was a surge of activity in the part of the brain involved with habits and rewards when they were choosing the sweet snacks like chocolate.
“These results provide the first demonstration that foods high in fat and carbohydrate are, calorie for calorie, valued more than foods containing only fat or carbohydrate and that this effect is associated with greater recruitment of central reward circuits,” explained the research team.
In a separate study, researchers from Columbia University discovered a way to remove cravings for sugar in mice, and say that the technique could one day be applied to humans.
The team performed several experiments in which the sweet or bitter connections to the amygdala were artificially switched off.
When the sweet connections were turned off, the mice could still recognise and distinguish sweet from bitter, but lacked the basic emotional reactions, like preference for sugar or aversion to bitter.
Dr Wang said: “It would be like taking a bite of your favourite chocolate cake but not deriving any enjoyment from doing so. After a few bites, you may stop eating, whereas otherwise you would have scarfed it down.”
The researchers believe that the technique could one day be applied to humans, and could be used to treat people with obesity or eating disorders.