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General Nutrition and Diet Facts

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Food Choice

 

Human food choice is multidetermined and are determined by experience, since it is not possible to identify on sensory grounds alone whether a potential food is nutritive or not, and whether it is toxic or not. There are some universal biological predispositions,including preferences for sweet and fat texture; avoidance of irritation and bitter and strong tastes; a tendency to be interested in and suspicious of new foods; and a set of genetic learning predispositions. Most of the determinants of human food choice fall in the domain of psychology and either direct or indirect cultural influences.

Taste is the main reported influence on food selection. The concept of food taste includes both taste and smell and the oral perception of food texture . A palatability or pleasure component is involved as well. Sensory preferences for the taste aroma, and texture of foods can determine food choices and influence consumer purchases. In some cases, good taste or palatability is related to the energy density of foods, and may be linked to their fat and sugar content .The impact of taste factors on food choices is strongest in infancy and childhood. Children like sweet and reject bitter tastes. These innate taste responses are observed immediately after birth. The conventional explanation has been that sweetness is a proxy for energy content of foods, whereas bitterness signals dietary danger. Mother’s milk contains both sugar and fat, whereas plant-derived alkaloids, metals and other toxins tend to have a characteristic bitter taste.

Being omnivores, humans select a diverse diet. Seeking dietary variety may complement innate preferences for energy-dense foods. Nowadays, diets become more monotonous and based around a few core foods. Food insecurity is increasingly defined not in terms of over hunger but in terms of dietary choices and dietary variety.

As omnivores, humans need dietary variety to obtain adequate nutrition. However, as our hunter-gatherer ancestors discovered, ingesting a potential new food can lead to illness or even death. Probably for this reason, humans including young children exhibit “neophobic” reactions to new foods.When children are presented with a new food for the first time, they tend to reject it. In general, children can only learn to prefer foods if they are made available to them. Fortunately, the child’s initial neophobic response to a new food can be reduced by eating the food, at least when eating is followed by positive postingestive consequences, such as pleasant feelings of satiety.

 


 
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