Besides the traditional tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory, scientists found a sixth taste – the taste for fat, or simply put “oleogustus.”
Dr. Rick Mattes, one of the researchers involved in the study and nutrition expert at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, explained that the newly found taste is the “sensation” one gets after he or she ate rancid oil and fats.
But researcher had struggled to make the scientific community accept that oleogustus is a primary taste for quite some time. For that purposes they needed to prove that it is a distinct taste from the other five, has a unique chemical signature, and interacts with specific receptors on our tongue’s taste buds.
Past studies, however, had shown that we have specialized fat receptors on our tongue, but making the taste for fat a primary taste needed to pass one final test. Scientists had to prove that people can distinguish the taste from others.
And that wasn’t easy because people usually describe fats by the sensation they leave in their mouths. To be more precise, people think of the sixth taste as a mix between the fat’s viscosity, richness, and creaminess.
But Mattes explained that those features are not the taste of fat. The mouthfeel of fats is triggered by triglycerides but if we leave aside that aspect of fats, we get a taste that is not particularly pleasant.
Researcher admitted that if we accept fat as a primary taste, we need to reshape all our convictions on what taste is. During their research, scientists used nearly 30 visually-similar samples of food with different tastes and several participants.
The team found that in 50 percent of cases participants could tell fatty acids from other tastes. Oleogustus, however, is a taste of rancid oils and fats and its main role is to protect people from eating those foods and become sick. It resembles to bitterness but it also serves as a warning sign.
Yet, the new taste is repulsive only in high concentrations. Scientists believe that in smaller doses it may add to the overall “appeal of foods” just like small doses of bitterness can enhance the flavor of some foods, wines, chocolate, and coffee and make them really pleasant.
Researchers noted that the newly found taste is quite a paradox because one may think that a taste of fat is something delicious, when in reality is quite repulsive.
“It may be tough to wrap your mind around the idea that fatty acids do not equal fatty goodness,”
Dr. Mattes added. He also explained that the food industry keeps the taste of fatty acids below detection because otherwise they would wreak the taste of any food.
Image Source: Sott.net
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