You know the phrase "You are what you eat"? You're probably what your mother ate, too. A mother's diet while pregnant or breastfeeding can sway an infant toward developing a taste for sweet or salty foods.
Later, exposure to different foods can turn your tastes. Tastes associated with pleasant experiences are more likely to become favorites. Food cravings and choices in comfort food, for instance, can come from emotional rather than physical needs. Take chocolate: It does contain tryptophan, the amino acid needed to produce the mood-lifting chemical serotonin. But soybeans contain much more tryptophan -- and when did you last hear, "I need tofu right now"?
- Mennella, Julia A., and Gary K. Beauchamp. "Understanding the Origin of Taste Preferences." Chemical Senses. Oxford University Press: 2005. (July 29, 2010) http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/30/suppl_1/i242
- Msnbc.com "Born with a taste for salt?" Jan. 29, 2007. (Aug. 6, 2010) http://www.msnbc.com/id/16877100/
- National Institutes of Health. "How Sensitive to Sweet Are You?" July 17, 2009. (Aug. 3, 2010) http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/releases/09/07_17_09.htm
- Neiman, Peter. "Taste Preferences." HealthyKids. (Aug. 4, 2010) http://www.healthykids.ca/secure/articles/taste-preferences.html
- Pressman, Peter, and Roger Clemons. "Are food cravings the body's way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients?" Scientific American. May 23, 2005. (Aug. 5, 2010)http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=are-food-cravings-the-bod
- Sanders, Robert. "Inland ants prefer salty snacks to sweet." UC Berkley News. Oct. 27, 2008. (Aug. 4, 2010) http://Berkley.edu/news/media/releases/2008/10/27_salt.shtml