March 14/London/Daily Mail -- Looking at pictures of high-carb food like pizza makes things taste better, research shows.

People who looked at images of pizza or pastry reported food tasting better than people looking at pictures of watermelon or green beans.

Scientists say that vision is known to play a major role in food perception, raising expectation of taste and driving acceptance or rejection, but the impact of different types of food on taste remained unexplored, reports journal PLoS ONE.

To test the effect, 14 volunteers were shown quick images of either high-carb or low-carb food, such as pizza or watermelon. 

They were then given an electric taste test -- a pulse which stimulates the tongue but which has a neutral flavor which is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. They were asked by researchers from the Nestle Research Centre in Switzerland to rate the taste on pleasantness and intensity.

Dr. Johannes le Coutre and his team also studied brain images involved with food enjoyment which were taken during the experiment. They found that those who had seen the high-carb pictures enjoyed the taste more than those who had seen the low-carb ones. He said, “The results provide evidence that high-calorie food cues enhance the hedonic evaluation of subsequently presented tastes. The study provides novel insights into cross-modal sensory interactions underlying taste and probably food evaluation and consumption.”

The neuroimages also gave insights into how the brain processed taste and sight to produce food enjoyment, which may have implications for treating appetite disorders, said Dr. le Coutre.

He said, “Future studies will have to elucidate to what extent the brain regions shown to be involve in visual-gustatory interactions could account for regulation of appetite and food intake control in real world settings.”

 From the March 15, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.