The taste of beer -- without the inclusion of alcohol -- may be enough to trigger the release of a pleasure hormone, dopamine, in the brain, according to a study released yesterday.
"We believe this is the first experiment in humans to show that the taste of an alcoholic drink alone, without any intoxicating effect from the alcohol, can elicit this dopamine activity in the brain's reward centers," the study's lead author, David Kareken of the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a statement.
In this particular study, 49 men were given sips of beer that were small enough to taste, but not large enough to cause an effect with alcohol. The researchers evaluated fluctuations in neurotransmitters, finding that just a taste was enough to increase levels of dopamine. Dopamine is associated with feelings of well-being and also with memory and decision-making.
But beer isn't even close to the only food that triggers the brain's centers for reward and pleasure -- a distinction that isn't just reserved for alcohol. Here are some health foods that can also help: