If you want to ignite the flames of passion on a date – order dessert. And you might want to buy your date a box of chocolates too. That’s because tasting something sweet can make a person more interested in a potential partner, a study suggests. Researchers at Purdue University in the US described a would-be dating partner to a group of 125 participants. 

Then, half of the group were given a sweet drink, while the others drank water. 
Those who had the sugary drink were more interested in going out with the potential date. They were also more positive when asked to imagine how a relationship with that person might turn out, the researchers found.

A second study, in which a further 155 participants ate biscuits (sweet condition) or crisps (control condition) elicited similar results. The researchers said brain scans have previously shown that similar brain systems underlie sweet taste and feelings of love.

Writing in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, they said: ‘Evidence from current functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scans) research reveals that sweet taste and feelings of love share similar neural substrates, which makes it plausible that the activation of one (regions associated with sweet taste experiences) may facilitate activation of the other (regions associated with romantic perceptions). Dopamine – a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres – may have a role, lead researcher Dongning Ren said. 

‘Research has shown that sweet food taste increases dopamine levels, a key biological substrate of passionate love,’ he said. ‘Although dopamine is involved in many experiences, it may be part of the link between taste and romantic interest.’
Previous research has shown that thinking about romantic love makes people perceive food to be sweeter.