Photo: jek in the box, Flickr.
Everyone knows that fat is an excellent vehicle for food flavors and has a highly appealing mouthfeel. A new study, however, suggests that along with sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (essentially, the ability to detect protein), we can also actually taste fat itself.
Dr. Russell Keast, an exercise and nutrition sciences professor at Deakin University in Melbourne, told Slashfood, "This makes logical sense. We have sweet to identify carbohydrate/sugars, and umami to identify protein/amino acids, so we could expect a taste to identify the other macronutrient: fat." In the Deakin study, which appears in the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Keast and his team gave a group of 33 people fatty acids found in common foods, mixed in with nonfat milk to disguise the telltale fat texture. All 33 could detect the fatty acids to at least a small degree.
''I may be very sensitive to sweet tastes, while somebody else may be insensitive. This is common throughout the tastes, and it's exactly what we're finding with fat," Dr. Keast told the Sydney Morning Herald. "People who are very sensitive to fat can taste very low concentrations of it. It appears [those] people have a mechanism that is telling them to stop eating it."