‘I often come across people who say they hate eating vegetables and salad leaves – particularly the bitter types such as kale, broccoli and spinach. My advice has always been to hang on in there and be persistent and research now seems to bear this out. New research from New York’s University at Buffalo suggests that, in animals at least, tastes do eventually change – the more often you eat your greens the more likely you are to enjoy them. The study, which involved training rats to indicate whether they found a solution bitter or not, investigated some of the thousand or so proteins in saliva and how these change following the consumption of different foods. Results showed that consumption of bitter tastes activated a new set of proteins in saliva, after which the animals no longer tasted the bitterness. Of course, this takes time, but if you’d like to eat more healthy foods that you currently don’t like, your tastes will eventually change!’
THE SWEET TRUTH
Sweeteners generate much debate, with some claiming aspartame – the sweetener found in Diet Coke – is carcinogenic, but recent research appears to lay this concern to rest. The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was in the headlines for showing an association between sugary drinks and breast cancer, but the authors also looked at diet beverages and found no link at all between these and cancer.
Diet drinks weren’t widely used by participants, but given sweeteners have been shown not to cause cancer by the European Food Safety Authority. it’s time we laid to rest the alarmist stories about aspartame and cancer. I advocate water over diet drinks. And while there may be reason to consume fewer sweeteners – they have been linked to modulating gut bacteria, for example – believing they cause cancer isn’t one of them.
BANANAS – STARCH VS SUGAR
Question: Is a very ripe banana higher in calories than a normal one?
Answer: No, bananas can’t acquire calories as they age. What happens is the nutrient profile changes over time, with the starch breaking down into sugars as the banana ripens.
However, starch and sugar contain the same amount of calories (4 per gram), so the bananas don’t become more calorific the yellower they get. A very ripe banana will contain mostly sugars, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as they provide a good available source of energy for physical or mental activities. They also contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6. An under ripe banana can contain quite a lot of ‘resistant’ starch, which normal digestion can’t break down so you may absorb marginally fewer of the calories in a green banana, with some passing into the bowel unabsorbed.