Fat Found to be Sixth Taste

Fat should be added to the current five fundamental tastes according to a new study.  People with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat tend to eat less fatty foods, but they are also less likely to be overweight.

Traditionally, scientists and culinary experts believed there were five fundamental tastes: bitter, salty, sweet, sour, and savory. But now, a newly discovered ability for people to taste fat could hold the key to reducing obesity.

Researchers Dr. Russell Keast and Ph.D. student Jessica Stewart at Melbourne’s Deakin University have found that humans can distinguish a sixth taste – fat. Not only did they discover that people with a high sensitivity to the taste of fat tend to eat less fatty foods, but they were also less likely to be overweight. The findings could lead to new ways of combating obesity.

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There are currently five known tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory, technically called umami – which is a taste for foods rich in protein. The researchers are now saying fat should be added to the list.

The team of researchers developed a screening method to test people’s ability to taste a range of fatty acids commonly found in foods. Study participants sampled different types of fatty acids found in common foods, mixed in with non-fat milk to disguise the texture.

Dr. Keast noted that all of the people involved in the testing could detect the taste of fat to a varying degree, indicating that people have a taste threshold for fat and that these thresholds often vary from person to person – some people have a high sensitivity to the taste though others do not.

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