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MSI Funded Research: The influence of herbs and spices on overall liking of reduced fat food
Peters JC, Polsky S, Stark R, Zhaoxing P and Hill JO
This study examined whether addition of herbs and spices to reduced fat and saturated fat foods can improve their overall consumer liking of food consumed at a single meal occasion. This is relevant in lieu of the fact that most adults consume more fat than is recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Adults ages 18–65 years old were recruited to taste three lunch conditions: full fat (FF), reduced fat with no added spice (RF), and reduced fat plus spice (RFS). Subjects rated their liking of a meatloaf entrée, vegetable side dish (broccoli and cauliflower), pasta side dish (penne), and overall meal on a 9-point hedonic Likert scale. Subjects came weekly for 3 weeks to consume meals and were randomized to the condition order. We enrolled 148 subjects who were predominantly female (n = 101, 68%), had a mean age of 35.9 years, and body mass index of 24.4 kg/m2. Subjects reported habitual diets as 36% of total calories from fat (2005 Block Food Frequency Questionnaire).
Reducing fat content alone significantly dropped overall liking of the meal compared with FF and RFS conditions (6.29 RF vs. 7.05 FF, P < 0.0001; 6.29 RF vs. 6.98 RFS, P ≤ 0.0001). The RFS overall meal was liked as well as the FF condition. FF and RFS conditions were liked significantly more than RF conditions for each meal item. Liking of FF and RFS meatloaf and vegetables were not significantly different from one another. Pasta FF and RFS conditions were rated significantly differently from each other (7.33 FF vs. 6.61 RFS, P < 0.0001). Adding herbs and spices to reduced fat foods restored liking of the overall meal, meatloaf, and vegetables to that of FF conditions, and significantly improved the liking of RF pasta.
This study shows that herbs and spices can be a useful tool to improve liking of foods consistent with national guidelines.