If you’re trying to lose weight, you might want to give up on your minty gum habit for a while.
A new study found people who chew gum eat higher calorie sweet foods instead of healthy, lower calorie options like fruits.
Co-author of the study, Christine Swoboda, a doctoral candidate in nutrition at Ohio State University, told LiveScience that she and her team were interested in seeing whether the chemical found in minty gum that makes food taste bad would help with weight loss.
She explained “The chemical change is the same reason why when you brush your teeth and then drink orange juice, it tastes bad.”
They wanted to see how this impacted people’s eating habits.
To find out, she asked 44 study volunteers to play a game in exchange for different type of food. The options were pieces of fruit or chips and sweets.
Before they started the game, half of the volunteers were given either fruit or mint gum to chew on.
The participants who had chewed on mint flavored gum were “were significantly less likely to play for as long to win fruit as they were to win the junk food” reported the Daily Mail, while the fruit gum chewing volunteers “were also found to be less interested in the fruit but the results were not as conclusive.”
A second study the authors did in conjunction with the first one aimed to find if gum chewers ate fewer meals. The researchers asked the volunteers to keep a food diary for a specific amount of time. For part of that time, they were asked to chew mint gum before meals.
The diaries showed that chewing gum beforehand did indeed lead to people eating fewer meals, but interestingly enough not fewer calories.
Swoboda thinks the menthol in the mint could be to blame for this. She suspects that the compound interacts with the nutrients in fruits and vegetables in a way that makes them taste bitter. This might be what makes these healthier choices less appealing to people who have chewed minty gum prior to eating.