Is there any evidence for the theory that things taste better if they contain nutrients that the body needs?

I had a banana this morning and it tasted great. Is that why?

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    What would be the control group(s) for this experiment? e.g. (1) food tastes good and contain necessary nutrients (2) food doesn't taste good but contains necessary nutrients (3) food tastes good but is nutritionally useless or harmful (4) food doesn't taste good and is nutritionally useless or harmful.
    – user2547
    May 15, 2011 at 22:01
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    Also, regarding "nutrients", shall we consider (1) basic nutrients such as calories which were scarce historically but overabundant in modern food (2) known vitamins and life-essential micronutrients, for which we can apply the "control group experiment" mentioned earlier, or (3) any family of phytochemicals, for which the health claims have not yet been established?
    – user2547
    May 15, 2011 at 22:06
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    I remember reading a survival story where a guy found fish eyeballs delectable because he figured they contained something he needed. Either that, or he rationalized it in order to muck it down. Human perceptions are very weird! May 15, 2011 at 23:16
  • Regardless of the answer to your question, it would most certainly be a correlation and not a universal truth. The body needs calcium, and yet I hate milk, and I absolutely loathe cheese. I don't think I could eat a cheeseburger even if I were on the brink of starvation. I couldn't name a single natural source of calcium that I like. I just dislike some less than others.
    – Michael
    May 16, 2011 at 5:28
  • If this were true, then wouldn't all cultures find the same things to taste 'good'? Sodas (pop, coke, whatever) are vastly different from country to country. Same with candies. For a culture day, we bought some Chinese candy in to U.S. children. While the candy is popular in China, every child here spit it out as 'uneatable'.
    – fred
    May 16, 2011 at 17:11

1 Answer 1


In principle, yes. There are a few reports in the literature demonstrating that nutritional needs affect taste responsiveness. But, probably, is not known how extensive is the change or what is the threshold in nutritional status required for the change in taste responsiveness.

Database searched: PubMed

Search terms: food taste nutritional needs

Below, I show you the titles (with links to the abstracts), and one highlighted sentence of the abstract per publication. I did not read each whole article, but these are peer-reviewed, indexed publications, meaning that independent researchers in the field evaluated the text before being approved for publication.

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