Tongue’s 6th Sense: Fats

tongue taste buds

There’s nothing like biting into a juicy hamburger or the delicious taste of creamy frosting on a slice of chocolate cake to make your mouth water. When we eat, a lot is going on in our mouths, including scents, textures, and, of course, taste. These taste sensations influence whether or not we appreciate or detest meals. You don’t have to be a foodie to understand the five basic tongue taste buds: sour, sweet, salty, bitter, and umami. Scientists have now uncovered a sixth taste and propose that it be added to the list.


Taste areas of the human tongue

dna test malaysia - tongue taste buds
dna test malaysia – tongue taste buds

What is the most recent flavour? It’s known as oleogustus. It’s a mouthful to pronounce, but it’s only a Latin word for fat flavour. According to Richard Mattes, a nutrition expert at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, the evidence for fat is that it can be tasted in all tongue taste buds. Still, it’s probably more pronounced at the back of the tongue or the back of the neck. He also explained that fats contribute to a strong odour, and texture and they also contribute a whole new flavour dimension.

But don’t be fooled by the idea of delicious greasy fries or a cheesy stuffed crust pizza; the fat taste researchers are referring to isn’t pleasant. It’s rather awful on its own. Mattes said that he has never met anyone that enjoyed the taste of fat.

Purdue University researchers, led by Richard Mattes, experimented with the taste of fat by modifying the nutrient and changing its natural condition. In their first experiment, they gave isolated solutions containing the six tastes to 100 interested volunteers. Sweet, sour, and salty flavours were easily distinguished. The remaining three flavours, bitter, umami, and fat, were more difficult for participants to distinguish. This was thought to be because these flavours are notorious for having “odd” or “awful” flavours. Rather than classifying each flavour separately, participants most likely lumped them as “unappealing.”

To clarify the results, a separate experiment was conducted that focused primarily on bitter, umami, and fat tastes. The flavours were separated into various solutions once more. Disparities were readily detected this time. This discovery was significant for fat’s case as a distinct taste because it contained flavour qualities that did not overlap with the previously described tastes.

Fat, like the bitter taste sense, serves as a reminder to our gustatory system, warning it that too much has been consumed. When used in little amounts, fat can provide the desired taste to a dish, similar to how a hint of bitterness can bring a piece of dark chocolate or a bottle of wine to life. The discovery represents a defining moment for science, as researchers continue to learn more about how food flavours affect our senses. Identifying fat as a flavour for health purposes could potentially aid in the fight against rising obesity rates. New goods with healthier alternatives to favourite high-fat recipes could be developed, with none of the negative side effects of prior fat substitutes.

According to the researchers, there may be other flavours that have yet to be discovered. There are claims that a calcium taste exists, that carbon dioxide has a unique taste, and that water has a distinct flavour. The addition of fat as a sixth taste sense may take some getting used to, but scientists believe it will eventually be accepted.

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