The cultural diversity of culinary practice, as illustrated by the variety of regional cuisines, raises the question of whether there are any general patterns that determine the ingredient combinations used in food today or principles that transcend individual tastes and recipes. We introduce a flavor network that captures the flavor compounds shared by culinary ingredients. Western cuisines show a tendency to use ingredient pairs that share many flavor compounds, supporting the so-called food pairing hypothesis. By contrast, East Asian cuisines tend to avoid compound sharing ingredients. Given the increasing availability of information on food preparation, our data-driven investigation opens new avenues towards a systematic understanding of culinary practice.
Here we present evidence of phytoliths preserved in carbonised food deposits on prehistoric pottery from the western Baltic dating from 6,100 cal BP to 5750 cal BP. Based on comparisons to over 120 European and Asian species, our observations are consistent with phytolith morphologies observed in modern garlic mustard seed (Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb) Cavara & Grande). As this seed has a strong flavour, little nutritional value, and the phytoliths are found in pots along with terrestrial and marine animal residues, these findings are the first direct evidence for the spicing of food in European prehistoric cuisine. Our evidence suggests a much greater antiquity to the spicing of foods than is evident from the macrofossil record, and challenges the view that plants were exploited by hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists solely for energy requirements, rather than taste.
A novel way of cooking rice to maximize the removal of the carcinogen inorganic arsenic (Asi) is presented here. In conventional rice cooking water and grain are in continuous contact, and it is known that the larger the water:rice cooking ratio, the more Asi removed by cooking, suggesting that the Asi in the grain is mobile in water. Experiments were designed where rice is cooked in a continual stream of percolating near boiling water, either low in Asi, or Asi free. This has the advantage of not only exposing grain to large volumes of cooking water, but also physically removes any Asi leached from the grain into the water receiving vessel. The relationship between cooking water volume and Asi removal in conventional rice cooking was demonstrated for the rice types under study. At a water-to-rice cooking ratio of 12:1, 57±5% of Asi could be removed, average of 6 wholegrain and 6 polished rice samples. Two types of percolating technology were tested, one where the cooking water was recycled through condensing boiling water steam and passing the freshly distilled hot water through the grain in a laboratory setting, and one where tap water was used to cook the rice held in an off-the-shelf coffee percolator in a domestic setting. Both approaches proved highly effective in removing Asi from the cooking rice, with up to 85% of Asi removed from individual rice types. For the recycled water experiment 59±8% and 69±10% of Asi was removed, on average, compared to uncooked rice for polished (n=27) and wholegrain (n=13) rice, respectively. For coffee percolation there was no difference between wholegrain and polished rice, and the effectiveness of Asi removal was 49±7% across 6 wholegrain and 6 polished rice samples. The manuscript explores the potential applications and further optimization of this percolating cooking water, high Asi removal, discovery.
Awareness of federal nutrition programs and use of the nutrition facts label are associated with reduced risk for obesity and increased intake of fruits and vegetables. Relationships between nutrition programs, use of food labels and risk for overweight and obesity have rarely been evaluated in adolescents.
Fire in the Plio-Pleistocene: the functions of hominin fire use, and the mechanistic, developmental and evolutionary consequences
- Journal of anthropological sciences = Rivista di antropologia : JASS / Istituto italiano di antropologia
- Published over 4 years ago
Fire is a powerful natural force that can change landscapes extremely quickly. Hominins have harnessed this resource for their own purposes, with mechanistic and developmental physiological consequences. In addition, the use of fire has niche constructive effects, altering selective environments for genetic and cultural evolution. We review the record for hominin fire use in the Plio-Pleistocene, before considering the various functions for its use, and the resultant mechanistic and developmental consequences. We also adopt the niche construction framework to consider how the use of fire can modify selective environments, and thus have evolutionary consequences at genetic and cultural levels. The light that fire produces may influence photoperiodicity and alter hormonally-controlled bodily rhythms. Fire used for cooking could have extended the range of foods hominins were able to consume, and reduced digestion costs. This may have contributed to the expansion of the hominin brain and facial anatomy, influenced by a higher quality cooked diet. Fire may also have allowed dispersal into northern areas with much cooler climates than the hominin African origin, posing novel problems that affected diet and social behaviour.
While US home cooking declined in the late twentieth century, it is unclear whether the trend has continued. This study examines home cooking from 2003 to 2016 by gender, educational attainment, and race/ethnicity.
BACKGROUND: It has been well-documented that Americans have shifted towards eating out more and cooking at home less. However, little is known about whether these trends have continued into the 21st century, and whether these trends are consistent amongst low-income individuals, who are increasingly the target of public health programs that promote home cooking. The objective of this study is to examine how patterns of home cooking and home food consumption have changed from 1965 to 2008 by socio-demographic groups. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional analysis of data from 6 nationally representative US dietary surveys and 6 US time-use studies conducted between 1965 and 2008. Subjects are adults aged 19 to 60 years (n= 38,565 for dietary surveys and n=55,424 for time-use surveys). Weighted means of daily energy intake by food source, proportion who cooked, and time spent cooking were analyzed for trends from 1965–1966 to 2007–2008 by gender and income. T-tests were conducted to determine statistical differences over time. RESULTS: The percentage of daily energy consumed from home food sources and time spent in food preparation decreased significantly for all socioeconomic groups between 1965–1966 and 2007–2008 (p <= 0.001), with the largest declines occurring between 1965 and 1992. In 2007--2008, foods from the home supply accounted for 65 to 72% of total daily energy, with 54 to 57% reporting cooking activities. The low income group showed the greatest decline in the proportion cooking, but consumed more daily energy from home sources and spent more time cooking than high income individuals in 2008--2008 (p <= 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: US adults have decreased consumption of foods from the home supply and reduced time spent cooking since 1965, but this trend appears to have leveled off, with no substantial decrease occurring after the mid-1990's. Across socioeconomic groups, people consume the majority of daily energy from the home food supply, yet only slightly more than half spend any time cooking on a given day. Efforts to boost the healthfulness of the US diet should focus on promoting the preparation of healthy foods at home while incorporating limits on time available for cooking.
Frequency of eating home cooked meals and potential benefits for diet and health: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort study
- The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity
- Published over 2 years ago
Reported associations between preparing and eating home cooked food, and both diet and health, are inconsistent. Most previous research has focused on preparing, rather than eating, home cooked food; used small, non-population based samples; and studied markers of nutrient intake, rather than overall diet quality or health. We aimed to assess whether frequency of consuming home cooked meals was cross-sectionally associated with diet quality and cardio-metabolic health.
Recent progresses in data-driven analysis methods, including network-based approaches, are revolutionizing many classical disciplines. These techniques can also be applied to food and nutrition, which must be studied to design healthy diets. Using nutritional information from over 1,000 raw foods, we systematically evaluated the nutrient composition of each food in regards to satisfying daily nutritional requirements. The nutrient balance of a food was quantified and termed nutritional fitness; this measure was based on the food’s frequency of occurrence in nutritionally adequate food combinations. Nutritional fitness offers a way to prioritize recommendable foods within a global network of foods, in which foods are connected based on the similarities of their nutrient compositions. We identified a number of key nutrients, such as choline and α-linolenic acid, whose levels in foods can critically affect the nutritional fitness of the foods. Analogously, pairs of nutrients can have the same effect. In fact, two nutrients can synergistically affect the nutritional fitness, although the individual nutrients alone may not have an impact. This result, involving the tendency among nutrients to exhibit correlations in their abundances across foods, implies a hidden layer of complexity when exploring for foods whose balance of nutrients within pairs holistically helps meet nutritional requirements. Interestingly, foods with high nutritional fitness successfully maintain this nutrient balance. This effect expands our scope to a diverse repertoire of nutrient-nutrient correlations, which are integrated under a common network framework that yields unexpected yet coherent associations between nutrients. Our nutrient-profiling approach combined with a network-based analysis provides a more unbiased, global view of the relationships between foods and nutrients, and can be extended towards nutritional policies, food marketing, and personalized nutrition.
Cooking at home is associated with better diet quality. This study examined the frequency of home-cooked dinners versus eating out in relation to the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and food expenditures.