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Sensory Physiology Approach to Developing Tasty & Healthy Foods. Steven Witherly, PhD Technical Products Inc. Author of: “Why Humans Like Junk Food”. Outline of Talk I. Theme : Food Pleasure & the Senses The Nature of Food Pleasure Cuisine & Physiology (Goff/Klee) We Prefer Foods/Spices:

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sensory physiology approach to developing tasty healthy foods

Sensory Physiology Approach to Developing Tasty & Healthy Foods

Steven Witherly, PhD

Technical Products Inc.

Author of: “Why Humans Like Junk Food”

outline of talk i
Outline of Talk I

Theme: Food Pleasure & the Senses

  • The Nature of Food Pleasure
  • Cuisine & Physiology (Goff/Klee)

We Prefer Foods/Spices:

    • Activate Sensory Systems
    • Satisfy Nutritional Requirements 50+
    • Enhance Health, Survival, Immunity
outline of talk ii
Outline of Talk II
  • Physiology and Cuisine
    • Shrinking Stomach & Jaw
    • Intestinal Enzymes and Preference
    • The TCA Cycle
    • The Double Helix and Taste!
outline of talk iii
Outline of Talk III
  • Food Perception Equations
    • Food “Pleasure” Equation
    • Food “Wanting/Liking” Equation
    • Food “Umami” Equation
    • Food “Kokumi” Equation
outline of talk iv
Outline of Talk IV
  • New Research on Taste
    • Complexity Continues
    • MSG Rules
  • New Research on Olfaction
    • Three Olfactory Receptor Classes?
    • Pheromones
    • Major Impact Odorants
  • Hedonic Measurements Now More Complex: wanting/liking/craving
cuisine physiology
Cuisine & Physiology



unique human nutritionals
Unique Human Nutritionals
  • 50+ Nutrients to Survive
  • Need Protein/Fat to survive (not CHO)
    • Long chain fatty acid needs
  • Vitamin C Absolute Reqm.
  • High Sodium Needs (No hair)
  • High Capacity for Sugar Digestion
  • Huge Need to Preserve Food for Survival
  • 300+ Species of Unique Bacteria!
essential nutrients overview
Essential Nutrients Overview

Herbals = plant material that MAY contain important nutrients that are physiologically bioactive

reaching beyond basic nutrition
Reaching Beyond Basic Nutrition

Vitamins – Fat Soluble

Vitamins – Water Soluble

Vitamin C

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)


Pantothenic acid

Folic acid

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
reaching beyond basic nutrition11
Reaching Beyond Basic Nutrition

Minerals - Macro

Minerals – Micro

  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Fluoride
  • Manganese

Minerals - Ultra

Minerals - Electrolytes

  • Copper
  • Iodine
  • Selenium
  • Molybdenum
  • Chromium
  • Arsenic
  • Boron
  • Nickel
  • Silicon
  • Vanadium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
dietary reference intakes

Sample Nutrient



Dietary Reference Intakes

Risk of Adverse Effects

Risk of Inadequacy








Observed Level of Intake

select nutrient deficiencies
Select Nutrient Deficiencies

A: night blindness

C: Scurvy: inability to clot, hemorrhaging

E: muscular neuropathy, pigmented retinopathy

Selenium: cardiomyopathy, Kashin-Beck’s syndrome

factors reducing nutrient activity
Factors Reducing Nutrient Activity food/V192e/ch03.htm

functional food predictions 2008
Functional Food Predictions 2008
  • Healthy Household
    • Greater family health concerns
  • Naturally Functional
    • Natural “color” superfruits
  • Balancing “Bul-get”
    • Satiety, lite foods, portion size
  • Contemporary Conditions
    • Aging, wrinkles  health concerns
  • Proactive Lifestyles
  • Smart Treats
    • Guilt-free delicious
  • Simpler, Greener, Cleaner
    • “fresh, “natural” = farm, additive free, environmentally friendly
  • Sensitivity Training
    • Catering to food allergies, intolerances
  • Vitality Treadmill
    • 5Ks to 40 winks (energy management)
  • New Venues
    • Restaurants, C-stores, vending

Sloan Trends 2008Presented at SupplySideEast, April 29, 2008

  • 37% consumers concerned about immunity
  • Inflammation:
      • Local, short-term  desirable
      • Systemic, sustained  undesirable
  • Obesity
      • Dysregulation of fat cells (pro-inflammatory)
      • Caloric restriction decreases systemic inflammatory response
  • Metabolic syndrome, diabetes, cardiovascular disease

February 23, 2004

oxidative stress defense or disease
Oxidative Stress: Defense or Disease
  • ROS (reactive oxygen species)
    • part of our natural defense
    • contribute to oxidative damage
    • possible contribution to chronic disease
  • In-vitro assessment
    • ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity)
  • In-vivo assessment
    • CAA (cellular antioxidant activity)
  • Natural defenses
    • Superoxide dismutase
    • Catalase
    • Some vitamins & minerals

Wiseman H & Halliwell B. Biochem J 1996;313:17-29Wolfe KL & Liu RH. J Agric Food Chem 2007;55:8896-907Reiter E et al. Molec Aspects Med 2007; 28:668-91

antioxidants risk or relief
Antioxidants: Risk or Relief
  • No evidence to support antioxidant supplementation (NCI)
  • Antioxidant supplementation may interfere with statin agents
  • Supplementation with vitamin C may  C-reactive protein
  • Antioxidant supplementation  risk of mortality
  • ATBC supplementation to be avoided by smokers
  • Fruits and vegetables may lower risk of some cancers.

Bjelakovic G et al. Cochrane Database Systemat Rev (April 16, 2008)Cheung MC et al. Ateriosclerosis Thrombosis Vascular Biol 2001;21:12320-26Omenn GS et al. New Engl J Med 1996;334:1150-55Newhouser ML et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2003;12:350-8Albanes D et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 1996;88:1560-70

NCI. 2004.

women s health
Women’s Health
  • Nurses’ Health Study & Women’s Health Initiative
    • Inverse relationship between PUFA intake and risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Total fat & fiber not significantly related to breast cancer risk
    • Vitamin E and fiber intake during adolescence inversely related to benign breast disease
    • Post-menopausal women resistant to aspirin & venous thromboembolism
    • Soy supplementation may not reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
    • Vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin B6 may not reduce risk of cardiovascular disease or breast cancer (even though homocysteine decline)

Oh K et al. Am J Epidemiol 2005;161:672-9Frazier AL et al. Cancer Causes Control 2004;15:73-82Glynn RJ et al. Ann Intern Med 2007;147:525-33Kreijkamp-Kaspers S et al. JAMA. 2004;292:65-74Albert CM et al. JAMA 2008;299:2027-36Ishitani K et al., Am J Epidemiol 2008;167:1197-206

hfcs a sticky dilemma
HFCS – A Sticky Dilemma

  • Implicated in overweight and obesity, insulin resistance
  • Glucose/fructose ratio unchanged since 1966
  • Fructose sweetness lost in heated food products
  • Fructose does not foster cravings
  • UK study among “overweight” children no difference at 2 yr
  • Overconsumption (rodent studies) perturb energy balance

Vartanian LR et al. Am J Public Health 2007;97:667-75 Forshee RA et al.Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2007;47:561-82 James J et al. Br Med J 2007;335:762-5 Bray GA et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:537-43

hfcs another view
HFCS Another View

Insulin causes less insulin response

Consuming as little as 40-50 grams or slightly over 1.5-ounce fructose over a 10 hour period may increase blood pressure, blood triglycerides, reduced insulin binding & insulin sensitivity, and increase fat weight gain. The disturbing fact is that the general population has been consuming more than that amount every day for the past 34 years. Total fructose consumed per person from combined consumption of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup has increased by +26%, from 64 g/d in 1970 to 81 g/d in 1997. As Body Mass Index increases (fat weight gain), the increased risk of insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriacylglycerolemia, and hypertension may occur.



Fructose is less regulated by leptin and insulin (increase weight gain)

humans fattest primates
Humans Fattest Primates


We Look Like

  • Small Jaw
  • Small Gut
  • High Brain Energy Needs

Small Jaw

  • Small Gut
  • High Brain Energy Needs

Human Diet Evolution

  • Salt, fat and sugar rare in our Past!
  • We crave what is scarce!

Lean meats, berries, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, honey

Thrifty Gene Hypothesis


Humans are “Cookivores”

  • Wrangham hypothesis:
    • Humans evolved with fire 2 million years ago: vision enlarged, noses shrank
    • Aroma receptors down but connections increased dramatically (3 Olfactory Brain Centers)
    • THREE Olfactory Systems!!!
  • Aromas associated now with:
    • Essential Nutrients
    • Fire
    • Fermentation
wrangham cookivore theory
Wrangham “Cookivore” Theory
  • Homo Culinarus; Paleo-Gastronomy
  • Evolved with fire, fermentation, high energy density
  • German study, women who only ate raw food lostweight, energy and monthly cycle.

Should We Be Vegans???

cooking foods
Cooking Foods
  • Increases digestibility
    • Raw Potato vs. Cooked
    • Lycopene in tomatoes
  • Destroys Anti-Nutrients
    • Soybean lectins, etc.
  • Increases Nutrient Density & Releases Nutrients
    • Cooking with Fat (Fat Soluble Vitamins)
gut directs food intake
Gut Directs Food Intake
  • Enzymes in Gut Provide Evidence of What is Most Pleasurable:
intestinal enzymes food
Intestinal Enzymes & Food
  • Proteinases (Carboxy-amino peptidases)
  • Nucleases (RNA/DNA or Nucleotides)
  • Carbohydrate Enzymes:
    • Lactase [lactose, milk]
    • Amylase (saliva too) [Starch]
    • Sucrase [Sucrose]
    • Maltase (Isomaltase) [maltose]
    • Trehalase
bacteria in gut
Bacteria In Gut
  • Unique to Humans 300+ Strains
  • How Did They get There?
  • Nutritional Requirements?
    • Bugs Need Food Too!
  • Digest Food, Create Vitamins, Boost Immunity
  • Certain Microbes Increase Fat Storage

the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes

10x more Bacteria than Human Cells!


Bacterial flora in Your Gut & Genotype May determine What You Like to Eat

Chocolate Likers Had Much Different Flora/Metabolic Response than Non-Likers!!!

Sunil Kochhar, Nestle

goff klee aroma nutrient theory
Goff & Klee Aroma-Nutrient Theory

Preferred aromas

are innate when they are derived

from essential nutrients

“Tasty Is Healthier”

humans like spices foods that are
Humans Like Spices/Foods that are…

Goff and Klee Flavor Hypothesis:

  • Bioactive (Do something to body)
  • Taste Active (Hedonics)
  • Orosensation(s) (Feel)
  • Gastrointestinal/Humoral feedback
  • Survival Value, Antibacterial

Goff & Klee Aroma-Nutrient Theory

Preferred aromas

are innate when they are derived

from essential nutrients

essential nutrient aromas
Essential Nutrient Aromas

Theory of Goff and Klee:

  • Humans innately like aromas that have nutritional significance.
    • Fruity = C and sugar and energy
    • Tomato = lycopene, fatty acids
    • Spices: health components
    • Carrot = alpha/beta carotene
    • Meat = Vitamin B1, 5’ Nucleotides, MSG
  • Science, 311, 812-, 2006.
are some aroma preferences innate
Are Some Aroma Preferences Innate?

Rachel Hertz


Goff & Klee


goff klee aroma classes
Goff & Klee Aroma Classes
  • Carotenoid-based Aromatics
    • Lycopene/Beta-alpha carotene/others
  • Essential Fatty Acid Aromatics
    • Linoleic/Linolenic/Others (long chain)
  • Essential Amino Acids
    • Branched chain/Sulfur Containing
citric acid cycle
Citric Acid Cycle

TCA or






Coffee Bean


food pleasure
Food Pleasure
  • Theme:

Our Brain & Gut Sensory Design is to Recognize Important Classes of Nutrients

food pleasure46
Food Pleasure
  • 1. Opioid System
    • Wanting
    • Liking
    • 3 systems in brain
  • 2. Cannabinoid System
  • 3. Serotonin Circuit
  • 4. Leptin—Insulin
  • 5. Dopamine circuits

Bottom brains: food restriction

increases Dopamine receptors

food palatability theories
Taste Hedonics

Major pleasure driver

Sensory Specific Satiety




Dynamic Contrast

Hyde & Witherly

Food Pleasure Equation

Witherly & Capaldi

SuperNormal Stimulus

Bigger is better

Flavor-Flavor Learning

Familiar breeds liking

Emulsion Theory

Salt & Sugar / Fat

Evoked Qualities

Pleasure memories

Mere Exposure Effect

More is better

Food Palatability Theories
food pleasure equation 1
Food Pleasure Equation 1
  • The Food Pleasure Equation:
    • F.P.=ƒ(sensation)+(Calories)

See book: “Why We Eat, What we Eat”, ED Capaldi


Food Pleasure Equation 1FP= Sensory + Caloric Content

  • Gustation
    • Salt, MSG, 5’Nuc.
    • Sweet, Water
    • Fat Taste
  • Olfaction
    • Aroma
    • Trigeminal
  • Dynamic Contrast
    • Temperature change
    • Snap, crackle & pop
  • Protein
    • Casomorphins
    • Gluteomorphins
  • Carbohydrates
    • Neurons like glucose
    • Fat cells like fructose
  • Fat
    • Essential fatty acids
      • Linoleic
      • linolenic
food pleasure equation 2
Food Pleasure Equation 2
  • Food “Liking”:
    • Food Pleasure Equation (Witherly)
      • Sensation plus Stimulation
      • Hedonic Based
  • Food “Wanting”:
    • Food choice without hedonics!
    • What is Food Wanting???

Food Pleasure = Food Liking + Food Wanting

culinary pleasure equation
Culinary Pleasure Equation

Food Pleasure = Liking + Wanting

wanting versus liking
“Wanting” versus “Liking”

Two separate brain mechanisms: influence food choice

wanting food dopamine
“Wanting” Food & Dopamine
  • Certain Foods May Elevate Brain Dopamine:
    • Caffeine
    • Cocoa, perhaps Coffee powder
    • Almonds, Avocados, Bananas, Dairy Foods, Lima Beans, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame seeds
    • Meat
  • Beta-Carbolines
  • Seeing & Smelling Huge Activator!
comfort food
Comfort Food

Anton Ego Liked the Dish of His Youth: Ratatouille recipe


activate wanting
Activate “Wanting”…
  • Scientists Found that serving Comfort Foods to Men & Women Activated “Wanting”.
  • MEN: Foods They Grew Up With
    • “MOM” Effect
  • Women: Snacks, Candy, Chocolate!
    • Foods You Don’t Cook
humans love emulsions
Humans Love Emulsions

Animal Flesh is an Emulsion

emulsions and opioids
Emulsions and Opioids
  • Animals Really Like Corn Oil
  • But they like it EMULSIFIED!!!
  • Excites Mu-Opioids in the Brain

Humans Prefer Solid or Liquid emulsions in ALL Foods!


Sucrose & Fat Pleasure

  • Pleasure magnified when mixed with fat (1): Emulsion Pleasure Theory
    • Brain Loves Emulsions with sugar/salt
  • “Reward Nutrients”
  • Sucrose: Affects both Dopamine and Opioids Systems!!!
stomach 2 nd oral receptor system
Stomach: 2nd Oral Receptor System

Bitter/Sweet taste receptors!

  • The stomach contains:
    • Osmoreceptors
    • Sense organs for:
      • Amino acids MSG
      • Fatty acids
      • Glucose
      • Acids and bitter tastants
    • Noiciception (vanilloid)
    • Mechanoreceptors
    • Texturoreceptors
  • Bodies 2nd chance to evaluate food!


salivation food pleasure
Salivation & Food Pleasure
  • Dry Food Evokes a Choking Reflex
  • Salivation lubricates &

dissovles particle in solution

  • Best sialagogues:
    • Acid
    • Umami
    • Dynamic Contrast
    • Rapid Meltdown

Palov’s Cat

d ynamic c ontrast t heory
Dynamic Contrast Theory
  • Foods with sensory properties that change rapidly or have major sensory contrasts are ones that are preferred
    • Robinson & Berridge 2003
h igh d ynamic c ontrast f oods
High Dynamic Contrast Foods
  • Ice Cream Number One
  • Potato Chips
  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Carbonated Soft Drinks
  • Chocolate
chemical senses overview
Chemical Senses Overview
  • Sense of Taste
    • Taste Sensations
    • Kokumi
  • Sense of Smell
    • Aroma sense
    • Trigeminal sense
    • Pheromone sense(s)
the sense of taste
The Sense of Taste
  • Two General systems:
    • Gustation
      • Sweet, sour, bitter, salty, umami, vanilloid, alcohol, water, astringent, fatty acid, metallic…
    • Orosensation
      • Hot, cold, tactile, texture, pain, pressure, burning
taste buds
Taste Buds
  • 5000 taste buds/tongue
  • 30-100 tb’s per papillae
  • 2500 taste buds elsewhere
  • in mouth
  • Access to buds key in sauces

Dozen cells



One tongue


10 basic tastes many sensations
Hedonic Tastes

(1) Salty, 2 types

(2) Sweet, 2 types

(3) Umami, 3 types

(4) Water Taste (Rolls)

Aversive Tastes

(5) Bitter, many isoforms

(6) Sour

Energy Tastes

(7a,b) Fatty acid taste?

Heat Taste

(8) Vanilloid receptor

Taste Sensations

Electric taste

Alkaline taste

Alcohol taste

Metallic Taste (9)

Astringent Taste(10)

Orosensation (trigeminal)

Touch (tactile)




10 Basic Tastes, Many Sensations
oral cavity complexity

Amelioride sensitive

(Na Cl) primarily

Amelioride Insensitive

Mg, K, Piperine, Ca++, cold


(T2R’s; lots, caffeine, drugs)


(T1R2+3); Starch Receptor?

Sucrose, glucose, Art. Sweeteners

Amino acid (Umami)

mGluR4 (MSG, 5’N, Garlic, Celery)

T1R1+3; 2 others?

Sour PKD2L1(Acetic, citric, lactic, malic)

TRPV1-V6 (heat, osmoreceptors)

TRPV1 (33c heat, capsaicin, acids, ETOH)

Artificial Sweeteners! Piperine, Vanilla

TRPV3; heat>33c

Oregano, thyme, savory, clove, ethyl vanillin

TRPV5, heat inc sweet taste

TRPV2: heat >43c

Tannic acid Receptor?

Red wine, fruits


(pain, heat, osmolality)


Low temp. 17c, (H+), EtOH

Pain, stinging/burning

Oregano, THC, mustard oil, ginger

Cinnamon, garlic, wasabi,

Nasturtium, watercress, wintergreen


Low temps, 15-25c

menthol, icilin

CB-1 & CB-2 receptors

(cannabinoid, piperine)

Fat taste(s)

CD36 receptor transporter

Linoleic, Linolenic, DHA

Viscosity, emulsion detecter?

Tactile (bay leaf, thyme, Schezwan)

Schezwan boosts all sensations

Oral Cavity Complexity
taste buds rule
Taste Buds Rule

Taste Buds In Mouth

Taste Buds In Palate

Taste Buds In Stomach

Taste Buds In Intestines

Gut-Brain Axis


What No MSG?

“When God Created the World, It Was Done So with Glutamate in Mind”

Young & Ajami 2000 AJCN

msg the latest research
MSG—The Latest Research
  • Stomach & Gut has MSG receptors
  • Presence of MSG enhances Long Term Memory & Importance of that Food!
  • MSG or Umami Taste is a “Helper” Taste sensation: works best in the presence of others!

Pleasure Enhancer

msg benefits
MSG Benefits
  • Gut Senses Glutamates, Increase Memory & Importance for that Food!
  • Improves Digestion
  • Enhances Saltiness, Sweetness
  • Suppresses Bitterness
  • Increases Salivation
  • Potentiated by Lactic (beef) & Citric Acid

Lemon Improves the Taste of Everything--Hopkinson


MSG, IMP and GMP enhance each other

  • IMP and GMP enhance sweetness
  • MSG, IMP and GMP generally enhance saltiness and vice versa
  • Salt enhances MSG, so foods with a natural high level of MSG (tomatoes) taste more if a pinch of salt is added
  • Salt and acid at low/medium concentrations enhance each other
  • Salt at low concentrations enhances sweet taste
  • Black pepper reduces sweet taste
  • Vanilla enhances sweet taste
  • Cinnamon enhances sweet taste

taste of life itself
Taste of Life Itself





Disodium Guanylate


Best Overall Flavor Boosting



Agaricus bisporus


mushrooms cuisine
Mushrooms & Cuisine
  • Some contains high levels of glutamic acid (Common Button, Agaricus bisporus)
  • Most have high levels of 5’-IMP or GMP nucleotides (Shitake)
  • Morels have a “Kokumi” peptide
  • All contain the sugar: Trehalose
    • Flavor potentiator?
  • Bioactive glucans
    • Immunity, lower cholesterol, etc.
umami helper foods
Umami “Helper” Foods
  • Cheese: highest free glutamates
    • Parmesan, Gruyere
  • IMP: 5’ Nucleotides
    • Pork>Beef>Chicken
    • Tuna (very high)>salmon
  • GMP: Shitake highest
  • AMP: 1/5 as strong as IMP
    • Squid>Scallop>Lobster>Tomatoes

Green Tea


theanine brain
Theanine & Brain





GABA synthesis

new umami equation
New Umami Equation

Greatest Umami Sensation

Umami=NaCl + Glutamates + 5’Nucleotides + Garlic + Celery Ext

1. Chicken Meat Extract

2. Savory Vegetables

Napa Cabbage

umami boosters
Umami “Boosters”
  • Parmesan
    • Glutamates, acids, peptides
  • Mushrooms (5’N & Glut)
    • Shitake, brown button
  • Wine
    • 5’Nuc, glutamate, acids
  • Seaweed
    • Very high Glutamates
  • Anchovies
    • 5’ Nuc., gluta, Omega-3
  • Soy Sauce
    • 5’ Nuc, Glut, peptides
  • Vegemite (& miso paste)
    • Yeast est. 5’ Nuc & Glu
  • Ketchup
    • Acids, glut., sucrose, carotenes
  • Fermentation & Slow Cooking (hi heat)

WSJ, Dec 8, 2007, McLaughlin

secret weapon pleasure foods
Garlic: MSG booster, stimulates hot/cold receptors

Parmesan Cheese: 1.5% MSG, acids and casein

Bacon: Salt, pork, and cookivore flavors (hickory)

Shallots: Unique aroma and taste profile

Butter: Emulsion, short chain FA’s, pure aroma

Soy Sauce: Salt (up to 15%), MSG (1.5%), 5’Nuc.

Tomato paste: Citric acid, nutritional aromas

Mushrooms: 5’-Nucleotides (boost MSG 8 times)

Secret Weapon Pleasure Foods
kokumi flavor intensity and continuity
Kokumi: flavor intensity and continuity
  • Mouthfullness
  • Flavor Lingering
  • Bigness (Brand)
  • Complexity
kokumi naturally
Kokumi Naturally
  • Citric Acid
    • Kokumi Booster
  • Aged Gouda Cheese
  • Maillard Reaction Products, >350F
  • Fish sauces
  • Fermented Soybean Pastes
  • Tamari Soy Sauce
  • Aromatic Amino Acids
  • Beans
    • Glutamyl Peptides
  • Garlic/Onions
    • Sulfur peptides
fermentation foods
Fermentation & Foods
  • Increase Storage Life
  • Adds Nutrients (B-vitamins) & Protein
  • Enhances Nutrient Absorption
  • Adds Aroma Complexity
  • Adds Taste Complexity
    • Huge Umami Boost
    • MSG, peptides, acids, lactones


olfaction update
Olfaction Update
  • Aromas processed by the limbic system first!

10,000 Total Glomeruli

400 Receptor Types

40 million receptors

aroma more complex
Aroma More Complex
  • Classic Olfactory Pathways
    • New Pheromone Receptors
  • Vomeronasal Organ
    • C9, C10 Aliphatic alcohols
      • And Aldehydes
  • TAARS Receptors
    • Sensitive to Biogenic Amines
  • FISH Aroma Receptors!
olfaction underated in humans
Olfaction Underated in Humans!
  • Human: More genes for aroma than any other organ!
    • 40 million receptor cells
    • Class I, OR52D1 (Aquatic Genes, 20% genes)
      • Narrow Tuning, Few Pseudogenes, Important
      • Soluble Meats & Fatty Acids, Amino Acids, Hormones
    • Class II, OR1G1 (Terrestrial Gene)
      • Broadly tuned likes C9-10 chain length
  • Humans Sensitive to Cooked aromas
    • Equal to Dogs

taars receptors
TAARS Receptors
  • Pheromone perception
    • Marking territories, sweat urine
  • Volatile Amines (biogenic amines)
    • Trimethylamine (decomposition)
      • Fish, prawn aroma (cold water osmolyte)
      • Meats, vegetables also (Soy, peanuts loaded)
      • Olfactory sense for choline nutrition
      • Destruction: acidity (lemon juice)
      • Cheese, beer (fermentation)
biogenic amines
Biogenic Amines
  • Biogenic substance with amine group
  • Many neurotransmitters are amines
  • Many antidepressants are amines
  • Bacteria produce amines in fish (smelly)
  • Highest Amounts:
    • Chocolate: PEA
    • Fish sauce: loaded!
    • Coffee (putrescine)
olfactory cortex aromas
Olfactory Cortex & Aromas
  • Foods Have Fixed Classes of Aromas
  • Certain “Core” Odorant Exist
  • Olfactory Cortex Tuned to Find Them
  • Aroma Categories can either Inhibit or Synergize with Each Other

J. Neurosci. Aug. 22, 2007


Aroma Potentiation


Methyl Pyrazines

C6C9 green odor compounds


Terpene hydrocarbon


Terpene alcohols


Certain Aroma Classes Potentiate Each Other

J. Neurosci. Aug. 22, 2007

pyrazines sulfur cmpds
Pyrazines & Sulfur Cmpds
  • Volatile Maillard Reaction Products
  • Important Flavors Many Foods
    • Coffee, Chocolate, Cooked Meat
    • Low Thresholds, lingering aromas
  • Innate Human Liking?
  • Humans LoveSulfur Compounds
  • Compete with Each Other

New Product


High Impact Aromas

Rowe, Perfumer & Flavorist, 2002

yogurt makes you feel good
Yogurt—Makes You Feel Good
  • Active Cultures (Lactobacillus acidophilus)
  • Up-regulate mu-opioid and cannabinoid receptors in Gut cells, and mediated analgesic functions in the gut-similar to the effects of morphine.
  • Bugs in Gut Affect our Visceral Perception,
  • Digestion may effect Food Preference!!!

20% pop.

Chronic gut pain

Nat. Med 2007

why do people like spicy food
Why Do People Like Spicy Food?
  • Excites vanilloid receptors for heat
  • PAIN induces (1) endorphin surge
  • Releases (2) cannabinoids!
    • Black peppers
    • Hot peppers
  • Increases Nutrient Absorption
physiological garni
Physiological Garni
  • Leek+Bay Leaf (fresh)+Thyme+Italian Flat Leaf Parsley+Chinese Celery+Sage+Spicy Oregano
spices physiology
Spices & Physiology
  • Psychoactive
    • Nutmeg, Mace, Sage, Rosemary, Lemon, Saffron
  • Aphrodisiac
    • Nutmeg, Saffron (picrocrocin), Cloves, Cardamom, Truffles, Grains of Paradise
  • Antioxidant
    • Black mustard, Clove, Cumin, Onions, Saffron, Cardamom, Garlic, Ginger, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Coriander, Basil
  • Gut Health
    • Ginger, Cardamom, Turmeric, Fennel, Cayenne, Black pepper, Cinnamon
most potent spices foods besides black hot pepper
Most Potent Spices/Foodsbesides black/hot pepper

Tomato Paste

Bay Leaf or Thyme




  • Crimini Mushroom
  • Cumin (pyrazines)
  • Turmeric (bioactive)
  • Garlic (sulfur compounds)
  • Green Onions (taste actives)

My Top Ten

saffron scary spice
Saffron: Scary Spice
  • Single Most Powerful Flavorant
    • Rivals Truffles, Star Anise
  • Essential Oils, Carotenoids, Flavonoids
  • Memory Enhancer, Mood Improver
  • Enhances Male Performance
  • Pain Relief, Anti-tumor
  • Only Spice that can KILL YOU
    • LD 50
parsley family
Parsley Family
  • Foods: Carrot, Celery, Parsley, Parsnips
  • Flavors: Anise, Chervil, Coriander, Caraway, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Cilantro
  • Essential Oils Present in Fresh Only
  • Bioactive Polyacetylenes
    • Plant Pesticides
    • Potent Anti-inflammatory
    • Potent Antitumor
white truffle aroma
White Truffle Aroma
  • 100+ Volatile Compounds VOC
    • VOC kills bacteria and competitors!
    • Violates Calif. EPA rules!
  • Many Aromas Contain Sulfur!
  • Androstenol
    • Pheromone found in humans and pig
    • Highly volatile & Fat soluble
    • Anti-depressant & Anti-anxiety effects


  • Most Taste-Active Fruit/Vegetable
  • Lycopene & Beta-carotene
  • Citric Acid
  • AMP, small amts ATP, ADP, GMP
  • Glutamates are high
  • Potassium Rich (Activates salt taste II)

Flavor Just Around the Seeds

chocolate bioactivity
Chocolate Bioactivity
  • When chocolate started melting all areas of the “brain just lit up”!
  • Cadbury 60% Deeply Dark Chocolate

Same reaction

for both Sexes

Heart Rate to 140/minute

Dynamic Contrast!!!

chocolate bioactives
Chocolate Bioactives
  • Contain Cannabinoids
  • Contain methylxanthines
    • Theobromine (antidepressant women)
  • Beta-carbolines (addictive?)
  • TIQ’s Salsolinol (dopamine binder)
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) (biogenic amine)
    • Pheromone? Antidepressant?
  • 400+ Aroma Compounds
  • 50% Sugar & Fat: rewarding chemicals
chocolate liking gut
Chocolate Liking & Gut
  • Nestle studied Chocolate Likers and Non eaters physiology (serum, urine)
  • People who like chocolate had similar gut/serum metabolics
  • Science: Nutrimetabonomics
  • Does the Gut/Body Cells influence food Liking or “Desire”???

S. Rezzi et al. 2007

best frying cooking fats
Best Frying/Cooking Fats
  • Taste Buds Prefer Linoleic (L), Linolenic (LN) & Omega-3 Fats
  • Canola and Soybean both L&LN
    • Clean, no other flavors
  • Corn Oil contains Carotenoids, Vit. E
    • Unrefined (Spectrum Naturals)
  • Peanut Oil contains Pyrazines
best baking fats
Best Baking Fats
  • Solid Fats with Crystalline Meltdown Properties
  • Butter
    • Melts at 82.4-96.8F (oral temp)
    • 120+ flavor compounds
    • Lactones, Diacetyl, Methyl ketones, Dimethyl sulfide (truffles)
    • Short Chain Fatty Acids
      • Taste Active, SCFA’s gut growth promoter
olive oil effects
Olive Oil Effects
  • Reduces COX-2 Expression (oleuropein, oleoanolic acid, tyrosol)
  • Reduces Blood Pressure
  • Contains Oleucanthal
    • Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant
    • Activates Vanilloid Receptor
  • Italian Oils High in Nutraceuticals

You Feel Better

Virgin olive oil (VOO) has a

peculiar set of polar phenolic compounds, the secoiridoid

derivatives, that exert a bewildering array of physiological and

technological properties (24)

beta carbolines
  • Similar in Structure to Dopamine and Serotonin (Neurotransmitters)
  • In COOKED Food!
  • Psychoactive MAO inhibitors
  • Anti-depressant, Increase Insulin secretion
  • Reduces Incidence Parkinsons’; Neuroprotective antioxidants

Foods Containing BC

develop foods for all tasters
Develop Foods for All Tasters
  • SuperTaster Theory
    • 25% SuperTasters
      • 35% women
      • 15% men
    • 50% NormoTasters
      • Mostly men
    • 25% NonTasters
      • Mostly women

Food Science

Perception more complex

superior cuisine i sc
Superior Cuisine I (SC)
  • SC = Tasty Food = Better Nutrient Absorption
    • Excite taste, aroma and gut receptors
    • Stronger food memories; enhance “wanting”
      • Sugar, fat, MSG (helper), Comfort Foods
      • Kokumi Lengthens Umami Experience
  • SC =Dynamic Contrast, Emulsion and Surprise Theory, Caloric Density and Sensory Specific Satiety
superior cuisine ii
Superior Cuisine II
  • SC = Spices That Increase Food Pleasure & Excite Orosensation
  • SC = Hedonic Solutes (salt, sugar, umami, Kokumi, TCA acids, terpenes, pyrazines, sulfur compounds)
  • SC = Salivation Response
  • SC = Cookivore and Essential Nutrient Aromas with Added Complexity
    • Fried, Smoked, Fermented flavors Preferred
summary healthy tasty foods i
Summary: Healthy & Tasty Foods I
  • Humans Love Emulsions
  • Humans Love High Caloric Density
  • Humans Love Salt, MSG, 5’Nucleotides
  • Humans Sense Food in the Mouth and the Gut
  • Food Pleasure involves “liking” & “wanting”
    • Must learn to measure both
summary ii healthy foods
Summary II: Healthy Foods
  • Food Pleasure Equation key to understanding how to modify food
  • Food ingredients can modify perception and pleasure generation
  • Excellent sodium replacements now available (amplify signal, e.g. citrate)
  • Understand the power of MSG
  • Gustation, Olfaction is now much more complex
bottom line
Bottom Line
  • Body Prefers Food with Nutritional, Sensory & Physiological effects
  • Modern Sensory techniques are needed to evaluate or measure “Liking” versus “Wanting”
  • Gut and Fat Cell have tremendous food preference pull
  • Spices have complex effects (black pepper piperine)

Physiological Gourmet

thanks for listening
Thanks for Listening!

Steven Witherly, PhD