A new research carried out by scientists from the Purdue University reveals that fat may be a taste in its own. This 6th taste could soon be joining the already recognized ones of salty, sour, bitter, sweet and the also recently discovered umami.
The research was carried out on a small batch of subjects. Since smell can greatly impact the way we perceive the taste of food (hence why everything tastes weird when we have a running nose), each participant was given a nose clip. Each person was then required to taste concentrated samples and then sort them into different pre-existing categories, including one for foods that had no taste at all.
The results showed that more than half of the subjects could tell an odd sample apart from any other category. This sample contained a very concentrated amount of a fatty acid type. The subjects did not seem to really appreciate the taste though.
That particular sample was significantly different from the fat you would normally find on a steak. It was more akin to the fats that exist in rapeseed or corn-based cooking oils. Regardless, the study claims that fat appears to have a taste of its own, being somewhere in between bitter and sour.
While interesting, the study would seem to have very little practical implications. But one of the members of the research team, Richards Mattis, believes it is very important for us to realize how our bodies detect fat in foods. This could allow us to better understand the needs of our body.
It could also provide more insight into our body receives information. As a significant amount of test subjects failed to detect this supposed new taste, it may be that perceiving is not possible for everyone.
The fact that this taste is repulsive on its own is also interesting. It might be that humans can only enjoy fatty acids in certain quantities, or they need to be mixed with other substances (such as sugar, which most fast-food contains) to be pleasant. Perhaps our bodies are naturally equipped with sensors that tell us to stay away from fatty food, but the current used ingredients might be tricking them.
Long before any medical applications for this discovery are envisioned, the study needs to be repeated on a larger scale in order to be confirmed. However, scientists already believe it could help us to better understand and fight weight related diseases.
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