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Vanilla yogurt boosts mood

Vanilla yogurt boosts mood

When something's described as a "bit vanilla" it tends to be a polite way of saying boring, and when you order a plain vanilla cone of ice cream over a more exciting flavour sometimes you attract looks of disgust. But listen up vanilla lovers, the key to happiness is apparently plain, vanilla yoghurt.

A team of scientists at Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research in the Netherlands, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, studied three groups of at least 24 participants. The group's emotional responses when they ate different flavours of the dairy dessert were tested, with results showing vanilla drawing very strong responses from the members.

"We were surprised to find that by measuring emotions, we could get information about products independent from whether people like them," noted Food & Biobased Research author Dr Jozina Mojet.

"This kind of information could be very valuable to product manufacturers, giving them a glimpse into how we subconsciously respond to a product."

Results are published in the Food Research International and add credence to previous evidence that vanilla can calm people down.

The study was designed to measure people's emotional responses, and it was found being pleasantly surprised or disappointed by the yogurt affected the participants' moods. Strawberry and pineapple flavours made no difference to responses, but lower fat versions did have a positive impact. Vanilla yielded the most positive results.

"We were looking for a valid, quick and not too expensive and time-consuming method to measure the emotions or mood changes evoked by food," Dr Mojet said.

"I strongly believe that sensory and consumer research should be conducted in an ecologically valid way."

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