b'EDITORS MESSAGECRAVING FOR SUGAR?NO WORRIES, YOURE A MUTANT! not yet ready to germinate by themselves.But the sweet taste had other effects The colour change in fruits coincidesas well. In the brain, sugar stimulates the with the timing of the development of"feel-good" chemical dopamine. Also, this the seeds and is the signal that the fruitmakes sense from an evolutionary per-is ready to be eaten. Most plants havespective, since our hunter-gatherer ances-developed a way to be sure that animalstors who are "hooked" on sugar, probably pay attention to this signal by keeping thehad a better chance of survival. Imagine sugars that animals want, in the form ofyoure living in the Palaeolithic era, acids, until the fruit is ripe.and you hated sugar, then you probably So, it was no coincidence that aboutwouldn\'t eat enough sugar, have enough 30 million years ago a mutation that pro- energy and wouldn\'t have children. vided our primate ancestors with theIn short: because our prehistoric so-called trichromatic colour vision, theancestors faced so many food challenges, way we see colours today, gave primatesit now means that biologically, we have a selective advantage. It allowed them toevolved to crave sweets. Many millen-better distinguish ripe from unripe fruitsnia later, with the invention of farming, and green foliage. As fruit is a critical partstarchy foods became much more abun-Marcel Bruins of the diet of many primates, fruit-detec- dant, but it wasnt until recently that tion qualifies as selection pressure. pure sugar became bountiful. The prob-But then another mutation happenedlem with that is our bodies are just not E ver wonder why we like sugar sosome 15 million years ago. During a timeadapted to the amount of sugar they are much? Well, it seems we can blameof global cooling, our earliest ancestorsingesting, leading to overweight and obe-our sweet tooth on our primatewent through a period of significant star- sity. So, here are some tips in case youre ancestors, who, millions of years ago,vation. And around that time, a mutationhaving another attack of these prehistoric survived on sugar-rich fruit. They evolvedoccurred that increased the apelike crea- cravings: to like riper fruit because it had a highertures\' sensitivity to fructose so that even Potato chips: replace with a salty sugar content than unripe fruit andsmall amounts were stored as fat. Whensnack that is higher in healthy fats and therefore, supplied more energy. we eat table sugar, our bodies break thisprotein, (e.g. cashews and walnuts). For millions of years, our cravingsdown into glucose and fructose, which arePopcorn is also a good replacement.and digestive systems were perfectly bal- then metabolized differently. In humans, Chocolate: may indicate a need anced because sugar was an extremelytriglycerides, which are a type of fat infor magnesium, to be satisfied with rare commodity. Apart from honey, mostthe blood, are mostly formed in the liver.magnesium-rich foods, (e.g. almonds). If of the foods our hunter-gatherer ancestorsAnd the liver acts like a traffic cop whonothing but chocolate will do, opt for dark ate were no sweeter than a carrot. Andcoordinates how the body uses dietary(at least 70 per cent cocoa). when our instincts tell us to binge on thesugars. When the liver encounters glu-Candy or pastries: To be satisfied nutritional equivalent of a carrot when- cose, it decides whether the body needswith whole fruits. Keeping dried fruits on ever we happened to stumble across one,to store it, burn it for energy or turn ithand may also be helpful for combatting weight gain was not a real risk back then.into triglycerides. But when fructosecravings on the go.Drinking sugar rich beverages severalenters the body, it bypasses the process Soda: replace with sparkling water times a day is, of course, a different story. and ends up being quickly converted towith a squeeze of fruit juice or a slice of To disperse their seeds more effi- body fat.orange. ciently and over a greater distance, plantsHunting is significantly less reliable Cheese: buy low-fat and low-needed animals to eat their fruit. In casesthan a drive-through, so at a time whensodium cheeses. where the animal swallowed the seeds,food was scarce and meals inconsistent, the seeds are deposited some distancehanging on to fat was an advantage, notMarcel Bruinsaway from the parent plant along witha health risk. This adaptation was a sur- editorial director, European Seedsome fertilizer to help the seed grow.vival mechanism: if you eat fructose youmbruins@issuesink.comThe risk for the plant is that the animaldecrease the likelihood you will starve to eats the fruit too early and the seeds aredeath. 4IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'