One of air travel's great mysteries has finally been solved - why tomato juice is so popular on planes but largely shunned on solid ground.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Society were commissioned by the airline Lufthansa to investigate, and concluded that the reason why people rate the drink as fresher and more appealing inside a plane is down to the effect of cabin pressure upon the human body.

Cabin pressure means the blood receives less oxygen, which in turn makes taste receptors less sensitive.

Mucus also expands under low pressure, which dulls the taste sensors. Meanwhile the cabin humidity dries the nose and mouth.

"We learned that tomato juice on ground level tastes earthy, not overly fresh," said Ernst Derenthal of Lufthansa.

"However, as soon as you have it at 30,000ft, tomato juice shows, let's say, its better side. It shows more acidity, it has some mineralic taste with it, and it's very refreshing."

Finally, a splash of Worcestershire sauce tickles the nose, which then stimulates tastebuds.

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