The Scientific Reason Why Some of Us Crave Pasta So Darn Much

Updated: Apr. 19, 2018

Don't blame your lack of willpower. Turns out a craving for pasta may be something you're born with.

Eating PastaShutterstock / ROSSHELEN
Photo: Shutterstock / ROSSHELEN

There are those that want to save room for dessert, and others who can’t help but scoop more pasta onto their plate. It might not even be the best you’ve ever had, but it’s calling your name, and no piece of chocolate will get in your way. What’s up with that?

According to recent research published in The Journal of Nutrition, you can blame your taste buds for your carb obsession.

With previous research suggesting that oral complex carbohydrate sensitivity may influence food consumption, the recent study, conducted by researchers from Deakin University in Australia, aimed to uncover the link between oral complex carbohydrate sensitivity, anthropometry (the measurement of the human individual), and dietary intake in adults.

The researchers gathered a group of 34 adults who had their bodies measured and diets examined prior to the study. Each participant was put through a series of tasting sessions, in which they were given solutions of a starch called maltodextrin and the soluble fiber oligofructose in different concentrations. The purpose was to reveal their range of sensitivities.

The team found that some volunteers were better at pointing out when they were tasting starch or fiber at low concentrations.

While the study found no significant body mass index differentiation between those who were more starch-sensitive and the others, the data did reveal that their diets were higher in calories, along with one other notable difference that you’ll want to pay attention to: waist size.

“We specifically looked at waist measurements, as they are a good measure of the risk of dietary related diseases,” says researcher Julia Low from Deakin University. “Those who were most sensitive to the carbohydrate taste ate more of these foods and had a larger waist.”

Excess body fat, especially around the waist, has serious consequences for health. So if you are first to reach for the bread basket, dreaming of a sandwich when you’re eating a salad, or wishing your bowl of veggies had some noodles in it, you might just be one of those who can better taste and enjoy sugars in the form of starch. Sadly, that’s not a positive.

The study’s lead researcher, Russell Keast, conducted previous research that determined fat is one of the things we can directly taste. He and his team found that people who were more sensitive to fat ate less fatty foods. But this is the complete opposite of carbohydrates.

“What that could mean is that individuals who are more sensitive to the ‘taste’ of carbohydrate also have some form of subconscious accelerator that increases carbohydrate or starchy food consumption,” says Keast. “But we need to do much more research to identify the reason why.”

Ready to eat a more healthful diet? Try these food swaps that you haven’t read before—seriously!