We crave calories, not sugar says research

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We crave calories, not sugar says research

Latest

The brain’s desire for calories dominates our cravings for sugar, rather than its sweetness, new research in the journal Nature Neuroscience has revealed.

Researchers offered mice a calorie-free sweetener or a bitter-tasting sugar with lots of calories. They found that although the mice initially preferred the sweeter option, they still chose to eat the ‘bad’ tasting sugar because of the energy it provided, rather than the sweetener, which provided no energy or calories.

Dr Ivan de Araujo from the John B. Pierce Laboratory, lead author of the study, commented: “It turns out the brain actually has two segregated sets of neurons to process sweetness and energy signals. If the brain is given the choice between pleasant taste and no energy, or unpleasant taste and energy, the brain picks energy.

"The sugar-responsive circuitry in the brain is therefore hardwired to prioritise calorie seeking over taste quality," he added.

The authors hope this research will help to curb excess sugar intake and urge people to eat more healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts and oily fish, which provide calories and nutrients and could potentially lower the risk of health problems such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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