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Why do we prefer eating sweet things?

Is the “sweet tooth” real? The answer may surprise you. Humans vary in their preference towards sweet things; some of us dislike them while others may as well be addicted. But for those of us who have a tendency towards sweetness, why do we like what we like? We are hardly limited by type; our preference spans across both food and drinks, including candy, desserts, fruits, sodas, and even alcoholic beverages. In this short (but sweet) animated video, we take a quick look at the science behind our preference for sweetness.

Begin video transcript:

Our sense of taste is unlike any other. Scientific data supports the existence of the sweet tooth in perhaps half of all humans. We’re born with established likes and dislikes. Craving for sweet foods is partly hereditary.

The enjoyment you feel from eating something sweet is facilitated by the same morphine-like biochemical systems in the brain that are thought to be the basis for all highly-rewarding activities.

From an evolutionary standpoint, our survival depends on our ability to take in energy from our diet. One of the major sources of energy is carbohydrates, which include sugars. In order to maximize our energy intake, our preference for food generally rises with its sweetness intensity.

Humans are not alone; all plant-consuming mammals demonstrate a preference for sweetness. The only mammal species that do not respond positively to sweetness are obligate carnivores, such as cats, that are not reliant on plant-derived carbohydrates. Science has shown why sweet tastes are rewarding.

Expand your knowledge of all things sweet with The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets.

Headline image credit: Donut. CC0 via Pixabay.

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