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Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Protein ... and Now Fat 210

ral writes "The human tongue can taste more than sweet, sour, salty, bitter and protein. Researchers have added fat to that list. 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."
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Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Protein ... and Now Fat

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  • by OlRickDawson ( 648236 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:28PM (#31431214)
    There is the Calcium []( taste buds which were not listed, and I'm sure there have been others discovered.
  • Protein? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:29PM (#31431232)

    It took me a few moments that by "protein" they actually mean the so-called "fifth flavor" often referred to by the Japanese word umami "savory".

  • by brian0918 ( 638904 ) <> on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:35PM (#31431308)
    Except of course that most obesity is caused by insulin resistance, which in turn is caused by continual spiking of insulin from increased blood glucose, which in turn is caused by continual consumption of highly-refined carbs. So while fat people certainly eat fatty foods (as does everyone else), the root cause of their obesity is the refined carbs in their diet, not the fat.
  • Re:Protein? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:37PM (#31431346)
    Glutamate is an amino acid that makes up proteins. The receptor recognizes it in its unbound form, not in the form incorporated in proteins, though.
  • Re:Savory (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:38PM (#31431354)

    Savory is umami.

  • by wjousts ( 1529427 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:44PM (#31431426)
    So I've only read the abstract of the paper [] and they really don't claim that fat is "tasted", just that some people are able to detect it and they link that ability to BMI. Whether they are really tasting or just detecting some other physicochemical effect is still unclear. There are a lot of different senses involved when you put something in your mouth. There is a lot of evidence that suggests that fat is a taste, but so far nobody has presented a receptor for it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @05:48PM (#31431488)

    Yes, it was just you.

  • Re:Umami vs. Savory (Score:3, Informative)

    by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @07:33PM (#31432620)
    Because we used "savory" to mean "pleasing" which describes all kinds of good things. Unless you're European, in which case you mean "savoury" as in the course that follows pudding, usually pickled fish, toasts, or brandied fruits, few-to-none of which are "savory" like you're trying to twist and bastardize the word into meaning. We've not ever referred to glutamates as "savory". If we've ever referred to a specific taste as the "savory" taste, it's been aromatic herbs, not glutamates. PS "savory" comes from French, so funny that you're all anti-Japanese (even implying he lied by saying he "supposedly" discovered the taste receptors) when the word you want to use isn't even ENGLISH ORIGINALLY. Some bastards started using it 800 years ago when they discovered there wasn't a word for it, but the French had one! Heaven forbid we do that again. Nosir, gotta protect the language, NO NEW WORDS.
  • Re:Umami vs. Savory (Score:3, Informative)

    by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @07:42PM (#31432684)
    Savory in English MEANS things flavoured with aromatic herbs, which doesn't make for a very good etymology.
    Savory in British MEANS for the course of a meal that's served after pudding, which doesn't make for a very good etymology.
    In fact, along the first point, there's even a herb specifically called "Savory". Also you have a bizarre definition of "technically equivalent" if you are saying "sweet" technically means "aromatic herbs".
  • Re:but why? (Score:4, Informative)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @07:44PM (#31432700) Homepage Journal

    For some reason even if I initially notice the smell of someone's breath when kissing, it goes away after a second or two. I wouldn't say I have ever tasted another person's tongue, though I have detected hints of chocolate after she apparently only had one malteser in the past 20 minutes or so.

    I think you are more likely to taste your own tongue after you try brushing it with some toothpaste to get your tastebuds all confused. I'd say it's likely to just be the taste of your own saliva though rather than your tongue actually having a taste of its own. You could always just try eating it..

    Wow this is a strange conversation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @08:12PM (#31432916)

    By that same point there is no protein (Umami) then either. Your tongue has only four specialized receptor cells. Salty (which is activated by direct transfer of Na ions across the plasma lemma), Sour (which is based on H ions directly crossing the plasma lemma), Sweet (which is receptor meditated and uses 2nd messenger system inside the cell), and lastly Bitter (which is also based on cell surface receptors).

    While Umami has been recognized by Asia for centuries, it is a new addition to Western A&P it is based on detection of glutamate, but does not have specialized receptors. Current belief is it activates a combination of the other four, and that specific combination is "associated" with protein through learning. Which is probably how fats would work (if it's not actually texture based like most believe). Either way though from a strictly A&P perspective neither is an actual taste itself because they don't have their own specific receptors.

  • by eonlabs ( 921625 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @09:55PM (#31433638) Journal

    The insulative layer surrounding neurons is made of fat. No fat, you get excitation bleeding (not blood, think short circuits). []

  • by infaustus ( 936456 ) on Wednesday March 10, 2010 @11:07PM (#31434062)
    Energy enters neurons almost exclusively as sugars. In the rare situations when adequate carbohydrates are unavailable, neurons can survive off of ketone bodies from fats elsewhere in the body, but this is a last resort and ketone bodies have poisonous byproducts. In this context, saying "the brain is fueled by carbohydrates" is true and meaningful, saying it runs on fat is mostly false, and saying it runs on ATP is not meaningful and sort of dickish.

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