How Easy Is It To Trick Your Taste?


by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

If I show you a pink macaroon, what do you think it tastes like: strawberry or lemon?

Of course, you are probably thinking strawberry. That was an easy guess.

But what made you think of strawberries and not lemons?

In this report, we explore ground-breaking experiments on the illusion of food flavours so you can get smarter and use the findings to your advantage.

Grab “How Easy Is It To Trick Your Taste?” below:

 

Download PDF NOW!

 

Conveniently download this 22-page science report. Contains links to extra reading materials and scientific references.

Topics covered in this report:

  1. The pink macaroon test
  2. When wine tasters see red
  3. Flavour is everything
  4. Making sense of our five senses
  5. Multisensory perception
  6. Savouring that fruity scent…
  7. When tasting is smelling
  8. Nosing into the brainy mouth
  9. Have a taste of this sound
  10. A mouth that sees
  11. A prediction machine in your head
  12. Predicting taste from sight
  13. Our visual brain
  14. The vegetarian meat
  15. Your key takeaways
  16. Learn more
  17. References and resources

 

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We would love to hear from you in the comments below:

  1. What's your number one discovery from this report?
  2. What does it mean to you and those you help?
  3. Are there any action steps you would take, or things you would change as a result of this report?

Share your own insights with us and your fellow readers!

The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right
Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.


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26 Comments

  • Maurice

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    Thanks Alex and Goulven. Found this absolutely fascinating. Makes me think twice when I eat or taste something next time, not just taking the first tasting sensation for granted.
    Maurice

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Indeed, knowing this makes us become aware of what alters flavour, even before we even taste food!

  • Luiggi

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    wow amazing experiments, Alex and Goulven… I can’t believe that 80% of flavour can be explained by smell!
    Thanks!!!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Luiggi – I’m as amazed as you are, which makes me think why food doesn’t taste as good when we have a blocked nose :-)

  • Christine Dwyer

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    Wow this is one of the most fascinating studies I have read!!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Christine – glad you enjoyed it, and whole lot more coming up next week!

  • Goulven

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    Thanks guys! The brain IS fascinating, and there is so much we can all learn about it … It’s going to be fun!

  • Morgan

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    I was just thinking about this last week when I had a cold and couldn’t taste my food! I found that I enjoyed foods with great texture the most appealing since the flavor wasn’t very pronounced. I also ate strong flavors like ginger and garlic and spices to help. This is also really beneficial information for a client that I have who is working on eating more mindfully. And finally, it will be fun to use this knowledge to try to maximize food enjoyment!

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Morgan – I bet that ginger didn’t taste as strong! :-) Love to hear how you’re helping your client, more ideas coming your way soon

  • Leanne

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    Very interesting study. I can be a very fussy eater and am hopeful that I may be able to make foods I dislike look better and therefor taste better.

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Leanne – yes, time to get creative and experiment a little!! Keep us posted :-)

  • Cynthia

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    This was quite an interesting piece as I have always thought that smell would over-rule sight. Given what you have written, I imagine that the presentation of the food, in addition to the actual look of the food would also be a factor, i.e. if the healthy choice doesn’t look as appealing, it can be made better by serving it on a nice plate with a garnish? Also, I wonder about those “Restaurants in the Sky” and whether the food tastes better when you fear plummeting down to the ground at any moment. :)

    • Alex

      Reply Reply April 16, 2015

      Cynthia – last supper kind of feeling! :-) You predicted the topic of a new report we’re working on about plate colour experiments! The scientists are in the process of getting their study published but they shared the paper with us so you’ll learn about their findings before everyone else out there!!

      • Cynthia

        Reply Reply April 16, 2015

        Thanks – that sounds very interesting!

    • Jai Lynn

      Reply Reply April 17, 2015

      Cynthia, presentation definitely has an effect on our perception of flavor! A friend of mine who went to culinary school claims that well-presented food tastes 20% better than the same food poorly arranged on an uninteresting plate. The number is probably arbitrary, but it’s an idea supported by this science report! I introduce this principle when I’m encouraging others to try green smoothies for the first time: obtaining a pleasantly vibrant shade of green, as opposed to a brownish, murky green, and drinking the smoothie out of a pretty glass with a fruit garnish seems to make the flavor and experience much more enjoyable.

  • Deborah

    Reply Reply April 16, 2015

    I really enjoy these articles. Makes me think of many possible applications for this information. Looking forward to future pieces in more depth.

  • Lorraine

    Reply Reply April 17, 2015

    The information was very informative. It’s amazing how the brain works for sure. My mother lost her sense of smell after a very bad virus, but she went on to cook our favourites exactly the same. She said she can smell in her brain with seasoning. She could taste sweet, salty, sour and spicy, but she could not smell anything. I believe what she said is true, because when I think of roast turkey, for example, I can smell it my “brain”.

    • Goulven Josse

      Reply Reply April 20, 2015

      Hi Lorraine – Your mother (and you) are using mental imagery to experience flavours without the actual stimulus. These mental images (which are not necessarily only visual) are partly based on memories. Beethoven composed music using the same process after he became deaf.

      • anne keyth

        Reply Reply April 20, 2015

        wow that is fascinating, Goulven! Maybe that’s how the best chefs cook, without tasting!

  • Gabriela

    Reply Reply April 18, 2015

    Thank you.Very interesting study!

  • Eleni

    Reply Reply April 20, 2015

    Thank you both, really informative. I ‘ve always smelled my food before eating it, in particular things like alcohol,new ingredients or in general food I ve never tried before. If it doesn’t pass the smell test it doesn’t go in … Now I know why :)

  • Michelle

    Reply Reply April 21, 2015

    As a Chef in a retirement village, I tend to deal with various issues of not tasting flavours of foods, either due to various drugs the aged use but more importantly simply their age. However they can taste their dinner through the scents in the dining room and know whats on! A fabulous Book called “Perfume” tells it like it is.
    Thanks Michelle

  • Susan

    Reply Reply April 21, 2015

    Our brain is playing a joke on us but we are still able to say, hang on, something isn’t right here. We have submitted children to this test and have put food colourings into lemonade and children were not able to tell the taste because they were conditioned to think that red is straw or raspberry, green lime etc. The black food colouring threw them totally as there isn’t that much black stuff around. Blindfold and everything is clear.I am concerned about the wine tasting though, we might as well colour lemonade red and served them in a wine glass! Great stuff!

  • Goulven Josse

    Reply Reply April 21, 2015

    Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and personal experience! Interesting.

  • Sherry

    Reply Reply April 22, 2015

    Anyone remember green or purple ketchup? I could not even look at it. The kids, 3-5 years old, would dip their chips and chase us adults around the room! It was so gross to look at, but had the exact same flavour as red ketchup.

  • Goulven

    Reply Reply April 23, 2015

    It’s interesting you thought it tasted the same, Sherry. It’s not all about colour of course, and in the case of Ketchup, the powerful brand and the strong memory associated with it might have preserved the product’s taste.

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