Add some to your coffee and report back.

Vanilla Extract
Credit: James Baigrie/Getty Images

There's no magic trick that will make you instantly be able to overcome sugar cravings and cut back on sugar intake.

But if you're looking to adopt a healthier diet, you may want to reach for the vanilla extract. Researchers at Penn State found that adding vanilla to sweetened milk made people evaluate the beverage as sweeter, as shared in a Science Daily press release from June 2019. As a result of these findings the scientists plan to use this principle to make a reduced-sugar chocolate milk for the National School Lunch Program.

The reason for the flavor boost is attributed to the scent of the vanilla extract which may elevate taste. "We are utilizing a learned association between an odor and a taste that will allow us to reduce the added sugar content," said Helene Hopfer, assistant professor of food science at Penn State, in the same press release. "Reducing added sugar in products, just like reducing fat and salt, is the holy grail of food science."

So whether you're making a smoothie or looking to sweeten your coffee, you may want to add a few drops of vanilla extract before you reach for sugar or other sweeteners. If you like non-dairy milk—like almond or coconut—you may notice you can also buy "unsweetened vanilla" versions that have no added sugar but contain vanilla extract to boost the flavor and deliver a product as satisfying as sweetened counterparts.

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What do you think of using vanilla extract as a sweetener? Have you ever tried it? Have any other savvy tips for reducing your sugar consumption?