why does food taste different on an Aeroplane?

Airplane food isn't very tasty because our sense of smell and taste decrease by 20-50% while flying.

You may notice that food tastes different on a plane. Turns out you're not insane because there are scientific reasons behind why food can taste so different on planes.

Taste Buds and Sense of Smell :
A person moving at 500 miles(885 kilometres) per hour in the air. Like the air inside the plane,  body of person sitting in a plane is also pressurized. This directly affects their sense of smell and taste. They start to lose their sense of smell when they're in that tight space and so high in the sky. Tasting is as much about their nasal passages as it is your taste buds.

Impact of air pressure and humidity:
As the plane fly higher, the air pressure drops but humidity levels plummet. At about 30,000 feet, humidity is about 12%, which is drier than deserts. The dryness and low pressure greatly affects sensitivity of your taste buds to sweet and salty foods by around 30%.

Impact of noise:
Even the noise produced by jet engines  can impact your tastes. Loud noise can intrude with our taste preferences, inhibiting our ability to taste sweet and enhancing our appreciation for umami flavors. 

Some airlines have started to take these aspects into account and have attempted to improve their meals, mainly for first and business class. It is substantial to understand the types of flavors that are affected by pressure, dryness, and loud noise on flights.

Is Aeroplane Food Different?
Airplane food is essentially different from the food we eat on the ground. The ground crew specifically select food and drink based on the scientific changes your body takes place during a flight and the way altitude and pressure affects certain ingredients. The kitchen partners of different airlines prepare the food in advance of travel.

Body Is Pressurized :
You probably understand that if you’re on an airplane traveling 500 miles per hour, you’re also moving at 500 miles per hour. What you would possibly not realize is that just like the air inside the plane, your body is additionally pressurized. This directly affects your senses. You can’t taste sweetness or saltiness nearly also on an airplane thanks to altitude and pressure, also as a scarcity of humidity. Cabin air also decreases your ability to smell, and tasting is as much more about your nasal passages as it is our taste buds. Even the noise that jet engines produce can also reduce efficiency of your tongue.

Impact On Taste Of Alcohol :
Just as alcohol affects you differently in the sky, it tastes different, too. This is particularly noticeable with wines, which tend to taste more acidic and tannic inside the pressurized environment of an airplane. In theory, this should be good news for those who tend to avoid sweeter wines, but it’s somewhat of a roulette game given the tasting discrepancy that flying creates.

Flavors That Are Affected :
Interestingly, the elevation mainly affects our discernment of salty and sweet flavors. Sour, bitter, umami, and spicy flavors are almost unaffected.

Recent research concluded that loud noise, especially the noise in an airplane cabin, can remarkably alter our perceptions of taste, making sweet foods less potent and umami flavors more booming.

What Should I Get to Eat And Drink?
Tomatoes are flooded with umami and have a strong flavor. This is why many airlines offer tomato juice as a complimentary beverage option. Unfortunately, complimentary snacks like peanuts and pretzels are on the saltier side. It's better to bring your own.

If you are planning for a trip and decides to travel by plane, go for foods that are spicy or full of umami ingredients like soy sauce parmesan cheese, meat, and tuna. 

Food provided by airplanes actually tastes different for a variety of reasons. You've to stay fueled and energetic throughout the flight, so make wise decisions while planning out your meals.

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