When it comes to food, aside from flavor, texture can make or break a meal. Crispy and crunchy textures tend to be more popular than oily or grainy textures. Chefs understand this and create dishes that include pleasing and complementary textures to create unique dishes. But how does this texture complexity affect our eating habits?
Of course, we will ingest more food when we are consuming liquid calories. Because liquid is on the lowest end of the texture spectrum, it requires no chewing and passes through our mouths quickly. This is why sugary drinks are linked to weight gain. Crunchy chips are higher on the texture spectrum than liquids, and even higher would be a spinach salad mixed with nuts, apples and goat cheese. It is this texture complexity that got some researchers thinking.
It is believed that foods with more texture complexity take longer to chew and digest, thus forcing us to slow our eating, giving our bodies and brains time to process the feeling of fullness. However, the newest study has come to find that texture complexity plays a role in our satiety.
The three-year study comes from the University of Auckland where researchers tested the idea that texture complexity would somehow trick the brain into thinking because there are different textures, more food is being consumed. Thus, eating foods with more texture complexity would make us feel satisfied while consuming less food.
In the study, participants were given 4 bite-sized samples which were identical in nutritional density and flavor, but varied in textural complexity (from high to low). These appetizers were gel based with either a layer of finely ground poppy and sunflower seeds or several layers of whole poppy and sunflower seeds, a hard disc of dough, and other chewy gums. These samples were supplied to participants before an all-you-can-eat meal, with the first course being pasta with tomato sauce and the second being chocolate cake.
Those who ate the more complex appetizer ate about 160 grams, or 360 calories, less pasta and only 20 grams less of chocolate cake than the rest. While the former is more significant than the latter, the study shows that texture complexity is probably as beneficial to appetite control as it is for flavor.
Because it is the first in its nature, we have yet to see if these results are reliable. What are your thoughts on this study? What are your favorite food textures or texture combinations? Let us know on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and find us on Instagram, Vine and Pinterest, too!
Build your own texturally complex meal at the Brick Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona! Choose your favorite sandwich and pair it with chips, a side salad, or a drink of your choice. Visit us weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm. See you soon!