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Monday, August 3, 2015
Scientists Discover A 6th Taste
Your attention please, everyone. Scientists have discovered a new taste — and its name is, well, a mouthful.
To the ranks of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, researchers have added a sixth: "oleogustus." Announced in the journal Chemical Senses last month, oleogustus is Latin for "a taste for fat."
"It is a sensation one would get from eating oxidized oil," says Rick Mattes, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University. He was on the team that made the discovery.
Now, when people think of the taste of fat, they're often thinking of a triglyceride, Mattes says.
"That's the overwhelming source of fat in the diet and, in fact, in our bodies as well. But that really provides a mouthfeel. That gives the richness, the creaminess, viscosity and so on," he explains. "But that is not the taste part. The taste part is when we cleave off part of that triglyceride, the fatty acid part."
And once it's been cleaved off, the taste that remains is not exactly pleasant. Found in high concentrations in rancid foods, oleogustus actually operates as a protective mechanism of sorts — offering a warning sign to stop eating whatever it is one is tasting. In this respect, it's a bit like bitterness. npr