The researchers had volunteers smell real fruit juice aroma compounds through an olfactoscan device, which delivers a steady stream of smell to the user through a tube. One by one, isolated molecules were added to find out which ones would change people’s perceived sweetness of the juice. It was found that some molecules caused them to perceive the juice to be far sweeter than it really was, compared with samples featuring no added aroma.
The aroma compounds were isolated using a device called the Gas Chromatograph-Olfactometry Associated Taste. In a previous study, Dr Thomas-Danguin added ham odour to flan, which made volunteers perceive more saltiness in the dish. Changes to just aroma alone made some volunteers believe that a flan made with 40 percent less salt tasted the same as a regular version.
“Most consumers know that they should be eating more healthful foods made with reduced amounts of fat, sugar and salt. But this is problematic because these are the very ingredients that make many of the foods we like taste so delicious,” head researcher Thierry Thomas-Danguin said. “Based on our lab work, we’ve come to believe that aromas can help compensate for the reduction of fat, sugar and salt in healthful foods and make them more appealing to consumers.”
Promising advances in this field could mean that aromatically-treated foods containing less fat, sugar and salt may be as appetising as the real thing in the future.