Scientists May Have Just Discovered The 6th Taste
Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, and now ... drum roll, please ... fatty.
Think about it: none of the other tastes could possibly describe that melt-in-your-mouth sensation created by a crispy piece of bacon.
However, according to a new study in the journal Chemical Senses, it isn't as pleasant as you might imagine when it's isolated from the other tastes. "It is a sensation one would get from eating oxidized oil," Rick Mattes, a professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and an author of the study, explains to NPR. In other words: it's kind of putrid.
When subjects were given samples of bitter, umami, and fatty tastes, they "sorted fatty acids in a league of their own," which the researchers suggest calling "oleogustus." (I honestly don't see that name sticking, but we'll see!)
So, while we usually associate fat with a specific type of mouthfeel — a texture, really — this study focuses on a taste we've never recognized before.
"This may be why low-fat foods have been generally unsuccessful so far," Mattes said. "If we recognize fat as a taste we could start developing better low-fat products." But scientists aren't yet sure what that would entail. Maybe a fancy new fat garnish to sprinkle over dishes?