A pinch of love really does make food taste better

 
By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 5th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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It’s one of the greatest mysteries of life: Why do grandma’s classic cookies taste so much better than those from that bakery down the street? Why does a home-cooked meal made with love often satisfy better than the fanciest feast from a five-star restaurant?

Well, researchers have found scientific proof that food prepared with love really does taste better. A study from the University of Maryland discovered that good intentions can pacify pain and increase pleasure.

Researchers put participants through three experiments to see how perceived intentions affected sensation. The first experiment tested whether kindness could reduce pain. Subjects were shocked and then told it was accidental, on purpose or for good intentions. Those who thought they were being shocked for a good reason felt less pain — good news for doctors who often have to inflict pain for health.

The second experiment evaluated the effect of goodwill on pleasure. The results showed that a massage given by a compassionate partner rather than an uncaring computer made for more bliss.

Lastly, the researchers gave candy to subjects to see whether a touch of tenderness made it taste sweeter. The candy had either a nice or indifferent note attached. Sure enough, the benevolent bonbons seemed sweeter.

The study results have implications for almost everyone. Doctors and nurses can improve their bedside manner and ease pain with a simple smile. For spouses and significant others, be sure to show you care with affectionate acts and words of love. Restaurant wait staff can enhance the taste of diners’ dishes by delivering great service.

But by the same token, past research shows that a depressed mood can increase pain. Your frame of mind has the power to not only sweeten your life, but also sour it, too.