We’ve always known that there are five tastes that we can feel – salty, sour, bitter, sweet and savory (umami). However, you will find it surprising to find out that there is one more – the “oleogustus” , which is responsible for tasting fat. And, according to people who have identified it, it is not good.
The discovery was made by researchers from Purdue University, who managed to isolate this new taste. The fact that this taste exists also means that it has its own pattern of activity in the brain.
Even if this is not an innovative piece of news in the science world, as many people already knew that the taste of fat exists, it was the first time some experts managed to provide proof of it.
During the trial, the volunteers were asked to taste chemical substitutes for each basic taste, as well as some fatty acids while their noses were tapped, so that the smell could not interfere with the way the product tasted.
After they interviewed the participants about their experiences, the researchers found that the fat tasted differently, according to the chemical structure. Thus, short-chain fatty acids had sour taste, while the long-chain fatty acids felt bitter. However, because there is no word in our vocabulary to describe fat properly, the scientists came up with the word “oleogustus”, which is a combination of the Latin terms oil and taste.
More than 60 percent of the volunteers felt that taste and they said it was not good. This seems quite surprising, given that most often people love the taste of fat on their food. Fried meat and vegetables seem to be the best, ice-cream and cakes are creamier when they contain more fat.
The lead author of the research, Richard Mattes stated that the fat can either make food appealing to people or it may have a bad taste and make consumers reject it. This is why we would never enjoy eating rancid food.
Dieticians believe this study might have a great impact on nutrition in general, as it will make health experts’ jobs easier when it comes to educating people how to eat.
It will also be helpful for other scientists to understand how fat influences food metabolism and it could become a very useful tool in fighting the medical risk that people are exposed to when consuming fat in excess.
The results of the study were published in the journal Chemical Senses.
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