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If you want to cut down on added sugar, add vanilla to milk beverages as researchers have found that this flavour in sweetened milk tricks the brain into thinking that the beverage is sweeter.
With the addition of vanilla, the added sugar content in flavoured milk could potentially be reduced by 20 to 50 per cent, suggested lead researcher Gloria Wang who conducted the research at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
"Reducing added sugar in products, just like reducing fat and salt, is the holy grail of food science," said Helene Hopfer, Assistant Professor of Food Science at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
The idea that congruent or harmonious odours enhance certain tastes is not new, explained Hopfer.
In a blind taste test that provided new insights into taste enhancement by an aroma, participants -- who did not know vanilla had been added to the milk -- consistently indicated that samples with vanilla were significantly sweeter than their added sugar concentrations could explain.
"We maintain the sweetness perception by having this congruent odour -- this learned, associated odour -- basically trick the brain into thinking that there is still enough sweetness there," said Wang, now an associate scientist in product development with Leprino Foods Co. in Colorado, US.
The researchers believe that the study, published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, offers people a workable option to reduce added sugar in their products and retain the sweetness consumers demand.