You’d think we’d know everything we needed to know about the human body by now, but scientists are still making discoveries about what makes us tick… or taste. Scientists haven’t always known that we had taste receptors for sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Heck, it wasn’t until 2002 that everyone agreed that umami was a distinct taste separate from salty that our tongues and brain receptors could pick up. And now, they might have found yet another taste: fat.
Thanks to advances in technology, scientists can now explore the idea that there are tastes out there that we might not even know about yet. Many have thought that fat might be its own flavor, but to prove its distinct quality, scientists had to show that fatty acids activate specific and unique receptors on taste cells, meaning they had to pinpoint taste buds that only recognized fat. Then, they had to show that the signal sent from the taste cell to the brain was distinct from that of other tastes.
By conducting studies in which people ate butter and butter substitutes, researchers found that the fatty acids in butter triggered a response in the brain that prepared the body to break down fats. They also found a link between a person’s ability to taste fat and their BMI, with people less sensitive to fat’s particular taste having a higher BMI.
So next time you eat buttered toast or drink a glass of milk, and you can’t pinpoint exactly what the creamy flavor is, it might just taste like fat.
How would you describe the flavor of fat? Let us know in the comments!
(h/t Discover Magazine)