Any tomato juice fan air travelers out there, who drink tomato juice when flying? I doubt whether I could find at least a few! Many people, including me, don’t prefer tomato juice in day-to-day life.
We know its earthy flavor is too hard to enjoy. But why are increasing amounts of tomato being served inflight? And people do enjoy the tomato juice with great pleasure!
According to Lufthansa, the airline is serving more than 1.7 million liters of tomato juice for their passengers each year.
There is actually a hidden science behind what makes you a tomato lover and you should know it before boarding your next flight.
The science behind the tomato juice mystery
Let’s get into the real business. Why do people tend to love tomato juice when flying at high altitudes but not on the ground?
The answer to this question needs a scientific lookup into the taste buds of us humans and how they behave with the altitude. Or more precisely, how humans behave with the humidity.
At high altitudes close to 30,000 feet, the humidity of the air within the aircraft cabin drops. In most cases, humidity within the cabin hovers around 12% which is equal to the humidity of a desert environment.
This reduction in humidity or the number of water particles reduces the sensitivity of taste buds in the throat. Studies have found that a reduction of sweet and salty flavors could occur due to the shrinkage of taste buds with the low humid air and it reduces the sensitivity by 30%.
As a result of that, passengers can’t feel the sweetness, saltiness and other tastes in the air to the degree that they experience on the ground. This recreates the situation where you attempt to feel some taste on the foods when suffering from a cold. Clink! The penny just dropped! Didn’t it?
This reduction in sensitivity reduces the harsh earthy flavor in tomato juice and makes them sweeter, more pleasant to enjoy.
On the other hand, other foods or drinks that you love to have, suddenly stimulate your sensations less and make you feel dull.
So, when you fly, tomato juice may be your sole companion throughout the flight who keeps you fresh!
The noise factor on your taste buds
Apart from the humidity, noise is another fact that plays with human taste. Scientists have identified that noise does have an impact on human sensitivity.
It degrades with high background noises.
But wait! What relation does it have with the tomatoes and aircraft? Aircraft cabin which is noisy due to the engines may influence the reduction of taste.
Most of the flavors including salty, bitter and sweet is under the influence of noise but except one: Umami flavor. Tomatoes contain a higher amount of Umami flavor and it does the magic!
Lufthansa airline cuisine tests
Many airlines, including almost all flagship carriers, pay their attention to this matter when preparing foods for their passengers.
Lufthansa, one of the airlines that carry out cuisine tests to monitor how the taste of the foods behaves with the altitude and pressure, is adding more salts to their bread rolls.
During the tests, they have identified that the flavor of foods with more spices tends to change less and adding more salts and spices to the foods may give the regular taste where passengers are expecting.
The inflight health benefits of tomato juice
So, from here onwards when your flight attendants offer you tomato juice don’t turn your nose up.
Now that you know the health benefits of drinking tomato juice inflight perhaps your thoughts go back to where you learned this from?
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What are your thoughts on tomato juice and other things we consume in flight? Please leave your comments below.