Eating in the dark isn’t as helpful for flavor enhancement as some may have thought, a new study claims.
Researchers at the Netherlands-based Maastricht University looked into how lighting impacts taste perception and published their findings in ScienceDirect, a scientific and medical research database. The limited study recruited the help of 138 volunteers who consumed a four-course meal under different lighting conditions to determine how light can play a factor in “taste intensity.”
Overall, those who dined in a setting that had more light reported having better-tasting food than those who dined in a setting that had less light, the study says.
“The results demonstrate that guests exposed to the bright ambient light perceived the overall taste of the dish as more intense as opposed to guests exposed to the dim ambient light,” an abstract for the study reads. “The results thus show that modifying the ambient illuminance level in a restaurant does not only affect the overall ambiance but also changes the overall taste experience of the food being served.”
These findings, while likely not welcome to restaurateurs that utilize dim lighting or trendy dine-in-the-dark concepts, may actually serve to benefit diners beyond their taste buds, too. The study suggests that its results can "provide tools for taste modulation," which lead to strategies that can possiblly "decrease salt and sugar consumption among diners," according to its abstract.