4

votes

Why does roasting increase food reward?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 03, 2012 at 11:10 PM

One of the low reward strategies proposed by Stephan is to 'eat gently cooked food', as in boiling and gentle steaming over roasting, grilling, frying.

I have found this to be the case. For example take some potato, mash it with some fat and it's tasty to me but take that same potato, chop it into pieces and deep fry in the same fat and voila, high reward food that I am guaranteed to over-eat.

Same goes for the delicious charred coating of a steak or rib compared to their stewed counterparts.

Now, other reward properties make sense in an evolutionary context when not co-opted by food companies, they lead us toward calorific and nutritious goodness. Why would we be more likely to favour the taste of high heat cooking?

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on March 04, 2012
at 07:41 AM

in fact there's now store bought "chicken" or "steaks" that have that fake grill markings over them and that grilled taste...clearly not actually grilled but some sort of artificial flavoring.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on March 04, 2012
at 07:40 AM

portion size?? we're talking Paleo nutrition not outdated dieting tips

Dc5144de5078c44a2b106ff25778fd3d

(308)

on January 04, 2012
at 09:02 PM

I actually have a beef (!) with Cordain about this issue. He claims that most Paleo folks would eat one large meal a day, most likely after an all-day hunt. I find it extremely hard to believe that they would slow cook an animal after eating lightly all day long. BTW, I'm willing to eat grilled meat & veggies every day in the name of science.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on January 04, 2012
at 09:02 PM

There is another PH thread going on that discusses this subject albeit in a slightly different context... http://paleohacks.com/questions/34279/endogenous-vs-exogenous-glycation-maillard#axzz1iWdRAzWu

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 08:20 PM

What do you mean by phenolics? Is that down to hormesis or something?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2012
at 06:24 PM

Having smoked a lot of meat, the flavor from burning fat and protein - probably phenolics - go beyond caramelization.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2012
at 06:21 PM

Suppressing flavor seems silly to me because I suppress portion size and accomplish the same thing. My grandma could wreck a sirloin by putting it in the pressure cooker. If you want food to taste like dog food, eat dog food and save your money.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 04, 2012
at 05:56 PM

+1 IMHO, as long as we don't fool our senses of taste, smell, hunger, thirst, etc. via neolithic crap, we can trust them for what's good, or bad.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:12 PM

As FED said we simply don't know. Browning is a series of very complex processes that we know little about. This is ALL just speculation therefore there is no answer.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:43 PM

Also as FED points out below, association of caramelization flavors with cooked meat = more available nutrients = survival advantage for those who have a taste preference for those flavors.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:39 PM

+1 for focusing on "why we find these compounds pleasurable in the first place"

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:36 PM

a bigger threat than cancer since other factors increasing cancer risk seem to have been low in paleo times, compared to other risks. All speculation on my part. Anyone want to try to figure a way to research that hypothesis?

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:34 PM

@Nance I think the equivalent question would be "why do we enjoy seeing a blue sky" or "why is the color blue that favorite color of most people?" Blue sky = good weather, comfortable conditions, etc (usually) = association of blue as a calming color that humans like. So the roasted taste = just ate a big hunk of roasted meat and are feeling comfortably fed and not hungry. (roasting being probably easiest way to cook with fire) So why didn't we evolve a distaste for cancer causing compounds and AGEs associated with charring? At a guess, AGEs not as big an issue with low sugar diet and hunger

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:06 PM

@Shari we like salt because we have a biological need for salt, we like creamy things because it's indicative of fat which is higher in calories.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:55 AM

@Kasra, I knew that but you could ask why? why? why? LOL

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:33 AM

Good comments, lol. I think these are flavor compounds that are unavaiable to us elsewhere and clearly they trigger something in us. Why do we like salt? Why do we like creamy things? You don't want to go there do you? I see it as an issue of slow cooking not allowing as many flavor compounds to develop via the different processes that take place during cooking. High heat gives us ones that low heat does not.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:40 AM

^ Because air molecules scatter blue light more readily than other wavelengths of light , next question.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 04, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Why is the sky blue? Our taste buds have evolved to like the roasted flavor over the boiled/steam flavor. If there's a known reason for that evolution, I haven't heard it and I'd be interested too. Otherwise, my happy compromise is to use a lot of material, and not much water, in my slow-cooker so I have the roasted element from the foods that stick out above the moisture plus I have the tenderness of slow-simmered in the material down in the fat/broth.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 12:39 AM

Yes but my question would be why the caramelisation process be delicious to us?

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5 Answers

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10
Medium avatar

(19479)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Caramelized sugars, changes to protein structure, the formation of unique compounds, etc. all create that meaty crust that we find so appealing. Food scientists are hard at work trying to uncover what exactly makes "browning compounds" so delicious (in no small part because they would like to figure out how to add these flavors to processed foods) but mysteries still about.

Some theories as to why we find these compounds pleasurable in the first place suggest that a nicely browned crust indicates cooked meat. The human gut was not initially a carnivorous one. Our shared ancestor with the chimpanzee likely has a more chimp-like diet of primarily fruit supplemented by a smaller portion of hunted game. When we moved to the savannah and began to rely on animal flesh for a greater portion of our nutrition, those who enjoyed cooked meat were able to consume/assimilate calories more efficiently. A survival advantage of only 1% is enough to increase a gene's frequency to 99% within a population after only a few thousand generations and we spend way more time than that as plain dwelling Pleistocene hunters.

Of course, this is just conjecture, but the fact that we do enjoy (and are "rewarded" by) a nice crusty piece of meat with a moist, juicy center indicates that there is some sort of survival advantage signalling at work.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 08:20 PM

What do you mean by phenolics? Is that down to hormesis or something?

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on January 04, 2012
at 05:56 PM

+1 IMHO, as long as we don't fool our senses of taste, smell, hunger, thirst, etc. via neolithic crap, we can trust them for what's good, or bad.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on January 04, 2012
at 06:24 PM

Having smoked a lot of meat, the flavor from burning fat and protein - probably phenolics - go beyond caramelization.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:39 PM

+1 for focusing on "why we find these compounds pleasurable in the first place"

Medium avatar

(19479)

on January 04, 2012
at 09:02 PM

There is another PH thread going on that discusses this subject albeit in a slightly different context... http://paleohacks.com/questions/34279/endogenous-vs-exogenous-glycation-maillard#axzz1iWdRAzWu

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on March 04, 2012
at 07:41 AM

in fact there's now store bought "chicken" or "steaks" that have that fake grill markings over them and that grilled taste...clearly not actually grilled but some sort of artificial flavoring.

4
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on January 04, 2012
at 12:10 AM

Caramelization. This high-heat reaction causes the formation of many flavor compounds which = deliciousness.

Edit: As FED said we simply don't know. Browning is a series of very complex processes that we know little about. This is all just speculation therefore there is no answer.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:34 PM

@Nance I think the equivalent question would be "why do we enjoy seeing a blue sky" or "why is the color blue that favorite color of most people?" Blue sky = good weather, comfortable conditions, etc (usually) = association of blue as a calming color that humans like. So the roasted taste = just ate a big hunk of roasted meat and are feeling comfortably fed and not hungry. (roasting being probably easiest way to cook with fire) So why didn't we evolve a distaste for cancer causing compounds and AGEs associated with charring? At a guess, AGEs not as big an issue with low sugar diet and hunger

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 04, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Why is the sky blue? Our taste buds have evolved to like the roasted flavor over the boiled/steam flavor. If there's a known reason for that evolution, I haven't heard it and I'd be interested too. Otherwise, my happy compromise is to use a lot of material, and not much water, in my slow-cooker so I have the roasted element from the foods that stick out above the moisture plus I have the tenderness of slow-simmered in the material down in the fat/broth.

5ef574d7893bc816ec52e04139e9bc09

(6097)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:40 AM

^ Because air molecules scatter blue light more readily than other wavelengths of light , next question.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:55 AM

@Kasra, I knew that but you could ask why? why? why? LOL

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:33 AM

Good comments, lol. I think these are flavor compounds that are unavaiable to us elsewhere and clearly they trigger something in us. Why do we like salt? Why do we like creamy things? You don't want to go there do you? I see it as an issue of slow cooking not allowing as many flavor compounds to develop via the different processes that take place during cooking. High heat gives us ones that low heat does not.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:43 PM

Also as FED points out below, association of caramelization flavors with cooked meat = more available nutrients = survival advantage for those who have a taste preference for those flavors.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:06 PM

@Shari we like salt because we have a biological need for salt, we like creamy things because it's indicative of fat which is higher in calories.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on January 04, 2012
at 12:39 AM

Yes but my question would be why the caramelisation process be delicious to us?

Dc5144de5078c44a2b106ff25778fd3d

(308)

on January 04, 2012
at 09:02 PM

I actually have a beef (!) with Cordain about this issue. He claims that most Paleo folks would eat one large meal a day, most likely after an all-day hunt. I find it extremely hard to believe that they would slow cook an animal after eating lightly all day long. BTW, I'm willing to eat grilled meat & veggies every day in the name of science.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:36 PM

a bigger threat than cancer since other factors increasing cancer risk seem to have been low in paleo times, compared to other risks. All speculation on my part. Anyone want to try to figure a way to research that hypothesis?

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on January 04, 2012
at 03:12 PM

As FED said we simply don't know. Browning is a series of very complex processes that we know little about. This is ALL just speculation therefore there is no answer.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 04, 2012
at 02:03 PM

Umami is created by roasting and we have taste buds for it along with sweet, salt, sour, bitter. And it is wonderful.

2
Cccb899526fb5908f64176e0a74ed2d9

(2801)

on January 04, 2012
at 01:57 PM

For me it's definitely more of a textural affair; the crunch factor of roasted food and the contrast between the charred outside and softer inside is wonderful.

Benefits of low-reward be damned, I'm going to keep noshing on my roasted sweet potatoes.

Also, I've read that more intensely-cooked food has a higher caloric yield, though I'm suspicious of the notion that the difference is significant enough to induce such a strong preference for roasted food as compared to, say, steamed.

0
2006ccb2b60f9cc5ba5e8eff8a7abc46

on January 04, 2012
at 08:40 PM

pretty sure worrying about char is an inherent part of dis-ease that even our recent ancestors rarely had the time or "luxury" to contemplate

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