From the WSJ: "New Research Challenges the 'Body Knows What It Needs' Theory; Where Men Differ From Women"
Money quote from the article:
For decades, researchers surmised that food cravings were the body's subconscious effort to correct nutritional deficiencies. Longing for steak could indicate a need for protein or iron, according to this theory. Chocoholics might be low on magnesium or other mood-altering chemicals that chocolate contains, including phenylethylamine, a compound humans produce when they're in love.
But a growing body of research casts doubt on the nutritional-deficiency notion. After all, few people crave vitamin-rich green leafy vegetables and many other foods contain more phenylalanine than chocolate—including salami and cheddar cheese.
Instead, studies show that food cravings involve a complex mix of social, cultural and psychological factors, heavily influenced by environmental cues. While chocolate is consistently the most-craved food in North America, Japanese women are more likely to crave sushi, a recent study found. And only 1% of young Egyptian men and 6% of young Egyptian women reported craving chocolate, according to a 2003 survey. "Many other languages don't have a word for 'craving.' The concept seems to be uniquely important in American culture," says psychologist Julia Hormes at the University at Albany.
Graphic below of survey results (albeit a dated one and one from our Northern neighbors).
Read it all here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000...