Monday, March 15, 2010

Humans May Have a Sixth Taste : Fat

Source: Science Daily (Summary by NIM)

Most of us know that our tongues can detect five distinct 'tastes': sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Even when umami was 'discovered' as a taste, it was debated as to whether or not it was truly distinct from the rest, but it has ultimately been accepted as one. Now, in a new paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists out of Australia claim they've found one more 'taste' to add to the bunch - fat.

Yes, as odd as it seems, researchers believe that 'fat' may be a sixth taste that not everyone can detect to the same degree. The good news, however, is that the lucky few who can detect the fat taste the most may be leaner than the rest. The researchers found that individuals who were highly sensitive to the taste tended to avoid or eat less fatty foods, had lower BMI's and were less likely to be obese than others.

Using a range of fatty acids in testing, it was found that individuals were able to detect them, but at various thresholds - some people were more sensitive and others less so. As with salt and sugar, the researchers believe that our ability to detect fat has gotten out of whack, and we have become desensitized to high fat contents in foods. They hope that future research can elucidate what determines fat sensitivity, which many be helpful in battling the obesity epidemic.

Find out more about this study by reading the article "Discovery of 'Fat' Taste Could Hold the Key to Reducing Obesity" from Science Daily (Mar. 10, 2010).