Fat sense: Scientists show we have a distinct taste for fat

Fat sense: Scientists show we have a distinct taste for fat
In this Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009 file photo, Bernard Roques checks a Roquefort cheese as it matures in a cellar in Roquefort, southwestern France. On Thursday, July 23, 2015, researchers at Purdue University announced findings that show people have a distinct and basic taste for fat, and propose expanding the taste palate to include it along with sweet, salty, bitter, sour and relative newcomer umami. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

Move over sweet and salty: Researchers say we have a distinct and basic taste for fat, too.

But it's nowhere near as delicious as it sounds.

They propose expanding our taste palate to include fat along with sweet, salty, bitter, sour and relative newcomer umami.

A research team at Purdue University tested look-alike mixtures with different . More than half of the 28 special tasters could distinguish fatty acids from the other tastes, according to a study published in the journal Chemical Senses.

Past research showed fat had a distinct feel in the mouth, but scientists removed texture and smell clues and people could still tell the difference.

"The fatty acid part of taste is very unpleasant," study author Richard Mattes, a Purdue nutrition science professor, said Thursday. "I haven't met anybody who likes it alone. You usually get a gag reflex."

Stinky cheese has high levels of the fat taste and so does food that goes rancid, Mattes said. Yet we like it because it mixes well and brings out the best of other flavors, just like the bitter in coffee or chocolate, he added.

To qualify as a basic taste, a flavor has to have unique chemical signature, have specific receptors in our bodies for the taste, and people have to distinguish it from other tastes. Scientists had found the chemical signature and two specific receptors for fat, but showing that people could distinguish it was the sticky point.

Initially Mattes found that people couldn't quite tell fat tastes when given a broad array of flavors. But when just given yucky tastes—bitter, umami, sour—they could find the fat.

The team started out with 54 people, but concentrated on the results from 28 who were better tasters in general.

Mattes and colleagues proposed calling the taste "oleogustus" (Oh-leo-GUS'-tus) after Latin for fat taste. There is no single scientific authority that names senses.

Robin Dando, a Cornell University food scientist who wasn't part of the research, praised the study as "a pretty strong piece of evidence" for a basic fat taste, but didn't like the suggested name—preferring to just call it fat.


Explore further

Researchers determine existence of 'fat' flavour

More information: Chem Senses. 2015 Jul 3. pii: bjv036. [Epub ahead of print]. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26142421

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Citation: Fat sense: Scientists show we have a distinct taste for fat (2015, July 24) retrieved 21 May 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-07-fat-scientists-distinct.html
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Jul 24, 2015
Abstract and link to paywall pdf of "Oleogustus: The Unique Taste of Fat" can be found here http://chemse.oxf...abstract

Jul 24, 2015
Even though taste of fat individual might be bad, but the foodstuffs which contain fat do not taste bad and infact they taste wonderful and that is what is causing the spread of obesity as an epidemic.

In order to lead a healthy lifestyle, having a proper diet is very important.

When i was obese I was suffering from many other health problems as well but since losing 22 pounds I have become more fit. I was following the diet of lisa plog and have managed to lose 22 pounds with that diet. Google for "lisa plog diet plans"and you would be able to find her diet.

it is important that you continuously follow a diet if you really want to stay fit.


Jul 24, 2015
it is important that you continuously follow a diet if you really want to stay fit.


no, it is important to eat normally in order to stay fit.

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