There’s no doubting the powerful role smell can play in stimulating a craving—freshly baked apple pie, anyone? But here’s some surprising good news: Smelling certain scents can also help you with weight loss.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A new study from the German Research Center for Food Chemistry found that even just smelling EVOO may lead to greater feelings of fullness. When an aromatic extract was added to yogurt, participants consumed fewer calories and had a better blood sugar response compared to those who were given plain yogurt without any added extracts.
According to a 2012 study in the journal Flavour, strong aromas make you take smaller bites of food. Look for spicy food with bold flavors like chiles or onions, or try sprinkling red chile pepper flakes into a simple soup for a strong kick.
Green apples and bananas
A study at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that overweight people who smelled bananas or green apple when hunger struck lost more weight than those who didn’t. It’s believed that smelling “neutral” sweet smells can curb appetite, so if you don’t have a banana or green apple handy, try sniffing vanilla or peppermint.
This crunchy, refreshing plant with a hint of licorice flavoring has long been used by Italians as a palate cleansers between courses, but according to the West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy, it also functions as an appetite suppresant. When cravings hit, break off a stalk or two of the celery-like herb and have a tall, cold glass of water.
This vitamin C and lycopene-loaded citrus powerhouse is a favorite fruit of dieters, but it might boost your weight loss efforts even more if you take a few seconds to smell it before digging in. Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that exposing rats to the scent of grapefruit oil for 15-minute intervals helped lower their appetite and weight. Researchers believe it may have to do with how the smell interacts with liver enzymes.
By Liz Vaccariello with additional reporting by Perri O. Blumberg