Why do unhealthy foods like junk foods taste delicious and addicting while healthy foods like vegetables dont?



Why do unhealthy foods like junk foods taste delicious and addicting while healthy foods like vegetables dont?

In: Biology

Sugar. Eating sugar releases opioids and dopamine in our bodies. This is the link between added sugar and addictive behavior. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behavior.

It’s worth noting that addictive foods are defined by wanting to eat more than a healthy amount, so even if “healthy” foods were addictive, they would be unhealthy at those levels.

Also, it’s because we engineered junk foods to be maximally delicious, not maximally healthy, so health concerns took a back seat when we designed them.

A lot is also affected how we cook and season those veggies.

In their natural state, they can’t really compete with the sugar rush that other foods can give us. Also they can contain bitter elements that have to be cooked out.

Spice them up a bit and do a proper sauté and you can turn lots of veggies that people think aren’t good into a dish which they will enjoy.

Bland and bitter Brussel sprouts suck. Properly seasoned sautéed Sprouts are amazing.

Fat and sugar, We crave it.

Its why McDonald is so good, they put an ungodly amount of fat and sugar into it.

For the vast vast majority of human evolution, high-calorie energy rich foods were rare and hard to come by. Having a craving to eat as much fat as you could whenever it was available was a very good survival instinct because who knows when the next big meal is coming. And in the meantime maybe there’s a flood or fire, or you get sick or hurt, or a drought happens.

When any shit like that goes down, you’re more likely to survive if you gorged on that dead animal you found and built up your energy stores.

Only very very recently (evolution wise) did high calorie foods become cheaply and *reliably* available, all the time. So what used to be a useful instinct isn’t always suited now, but there hasn’t been enough time to re-adapt yet. If humanity lasts another 50k+ years, all the obesity- and heart-related deaths from overeating will possibly push the balance and reduce our craving for junk food. But there’s a million years of calories=life to overcome.

Basically: Our bodies crave foods high in sugars and fats and all times because we went so long without ready access to food, and those two were good for energy and survival. They were also hard come by in large quantities forever up until super recently for our species. Junk food and fast food exploit this (and you) by having tons and tons of fat and sugar (like insane amounts actually, [see a Coke](https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/JH–4647pYVsdxSUN1R3HkDGFJOBnulBbcK-K3gN_YL9ng15JSTxBVEuOCOcWbxPAJyF_P9v1gk-rLWqQvSEug) and the amount of sugar that goes in it). They put awfully high amounts of salt in nearly everything to enhance the flavors as well. With the sugar, fat, salt trifecta — nearly everything is enhanced to taste damn near perfect to our evolutionary and biological senses.

Many common American household vegetables are boring roots or leaves… composed or mostly water or starch. Little sugars, little fats, little flavor. They’re good because of fiber, vitamins and minerals, though still.

Senses of taste and smell are the result of a long and messy evolutionary process. They’re tools that help us steer into eating things that we probably want (foods loaded with sugars, fats, proteins, vitamins) and steer us away from things that could possibly harm us (poisons). But along the way we’ve also managed to be able to taste completely neutral things, completely by chance. And the way some of these compounds interact with our evolution-tuned sensors can be, well, weird. While we are hyper-sensitive to the primary flavors we want, basically all foods occurring in nature are mixed bags of flavors that merely happen to have a couple of those things we actively seek out. All those other random flavors are just bonus. How these extra flavors affect you is down to a lot of factors, many of them hopelessly random. Humans weren’t necessarily tuned to like or dislike these flavors, so you may love some, hate others, and your tastes will evolve with time and exposure.

Contrast that to junk food, which is the result of an army of labcoats getting together and saying to themselves, “what if we invented a product that had ONLY those really good flavors that we were evolved to seek out in it?” Making them nutrient-packed isn’t exactly the primary mission here, flavor is the only concern, as that’s what sells. That’s how we’ve ended up with foods that are irresistibly delicious, but have almost no nutritional value.

Eat enough junk food regularly enough, and you’ll become so acclimated to being surrounded by so much easy gratification that even the most benign errant flavors like those present in some vegetables will just be so… *bad* by comparison. I mean, disregarding the merits of health and adventurous eating for its own sake and focusing purely on the idea of primal senses, why would you *want* to eat a potentially mixed bag of flavors when something that is literally engineered to be composed *only* of *good* flavors is so readily available?

Back in the day….I mean way back machine…Our bodies needed excess calories to build, grow, and reproduce. It took a lot of calories to get these calories. Hunt, forage, chew leaves…

We are attracted to high fat, high salt, high sugar/calorie foods because that keeps us alive and we want that. We just got real good at providing that in a short time and have not evolved to the point of stopping the drive.

Even though there are some elaborate answers in here I think most of them are misssing one point you should keep in mind when thinking about these topics – we humans and our bodies are not perfect. It feels like the person asking this question is subconsciously assuming that our brain is great at picking what to eat by nature which it is just not, you have to regulate it with reason a lot if you want to do what’s best for your body.

Ever had a nice vegetable stew? I’ll take that over steak any day. It’s all how you prepare it. Of course it will be boring and bland if you eat a shitty, low-effort salad made from shitty tomatoes, cucumbers, and ice berg. You also wouldn’t just boil some chicken breast and call it a tasty dish.

Because your palate/taste/smell is burned by all the salt and sugar of processed/fast food, and as such you have no idea how natural healthy food tastes.

Having been raised on the “we’ll cut on anything but the food” poor household, fast food and industrial crap burns my tongue and i want to spit it out, and only when the sugar/fat animal legacy kicks in can i continue to force feed myself trash… but why would i do it in the first place ?

I’m not sure. I’m one of those people that enjoy a chocolate bar here or there but I actually love boiled broccoli. I find it amazing. So for me vegetables are actually quite addicting while chocolate gets old for me. Is there a science maybe behind that? Or is it just because I ate more vegetables at a young age than sweets?

It’s the salt. Salt relieves thirst, as it triggers the same signal to the brain as water does. When you only eat salty food, you learn that the unpleasant feeling goes away when you eat something salty. So you keep craving salty food, instead of drinking water, which soon makes you even thirstier, so you eat more, and often only the physical ability limits you from how much you eat. Junk food producers know this, so it’s virtually always extremely salty, far more than what anyone would add in their food on their own. You can relearn to feel it again as thirst when you only eat unsalted food. (be ready to get *very* thirsty)

Because crap food is addicting. Because the vampire companies that put money over people know exactly what they are doing.