Researchers from the Purdue University have discovered that we can taste more than just sweet, sour bitter, umami – the ‘pleasant savory taste’ – or salty, as fatty foods seem to have a distinct feel in our mouths as well.
The taste of fat, dubbed as oleogustus – deserves its place in the list, as experiments showed people can actually identify it. The small study had participants trying out different samples of food while wearing nose clips so the food’s aroma won’t be mistaken for taste.
It seems that fat has a unique taste, as 64 percent of the participants accurately sorted the different samples by taste in the categories of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and fatty.
In the group of people who guessed correctly, there were participants who could even make the difference between foods containing shorter fatty acid chains and those with longer fatty acid chains. The first food sample had a sour taste, while the latter felt irritating and pungent in the mouth.
There’s a reason why the fat-heavy samples had such distaste, as the researchers used higher concentrations that those usually found in food; they were more similar in taste with the fat found in fermented products or cooking oils.
Even though further research is required for this early experiment to be confirmed, experts believe there’s some more light that needs to be shed on the way our mouths react to certain foods.
This is not the first study to attempt to isolate the taste of fat, according to Robin Dando, assistant professor of Food Science at Cornell University. More and more research teams have come to find that fat could have its own flavor, and that we might have receptors that perceive fat.
Having a brand-new taste and a whole extra mechanism to identify the flavor of fat is a really interesting and important piece of research, says Dando. While some studies thought we are able to taste fat because of its texture, the study of Purdue University focused solely on identifying a specific taste.
Dieticians believe that having a sixth taste about fat might prove useful in helping patients break down their diet, because it offers a new insight on how they can get their nutrients.
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