We’ve written in this space more than once about the mysterious fifth taste, umami, which is a taste for protein-rich foods. Umami is the one that’s not as palpable to us as the others (sweet, sour, salty, bitter). There have been entire books written on the subject.
Now, a team of Australian scientists has evidently discovered that humans can detect a sixth taste: fat. And it seems those who are highly sensitive to the taste of fat tend to eat less of it, and have significantly lower body mass indexes.
Using a series of taste-testing experiments, researchers from Deakin University found that people can identify the taste of fat by its chemical composition, rather than by its texture.
It’s believed that the findings of the study could lead to new ways of treating obesity.
The lead researcher, Russell Keast, and his team had a group of people sample various types of fatty acids found in common foods, mixed in with nonfat milk to disguise the texture.
The researchers then wanted to find out if the ability to taste fat had any influence on what people ate. They found that â€˜people who are very sensitive to fat can taste very low concentrations of it,â€™ Dr. Keast said. These hypersensitive people appear â€˜to have a mechanism that is telling them to stop eating it,â€™ he said, â€˜and the reverse was happening with people who were not sensitive to the taste.â€™
Next, Dr. Keast’s team will try to determine why some people are sensitive to the taste of fat and others are not.
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