How does Fat Taste? Scientists Now Reveal the Surprising Answer

It is often assumed that fat is a satisfying taste, but new research is proving that the opposite may be true. This discovery could help with the ongoing research into human biology.

The research, which was done at Purdue University, was able to isolate the taste of fat, showing that it was distinct from the other basic tastes that are known. Those other basic tastes are split into five categories, salty, sweet, bitter, soured and umami.

The taste of fat is generated in the brain and involves specific brain patterns, similar to the way that other tastes are generated in the brain as well. Recognizing this fact helps researchers to see that fat is able to be detected by humans in the foods that they are eating.

In order to test the taste of fat, a group of volunteers were provided with food samples that included chemicals. Those chemicals represented both fatty acids and basic tastes. The volunteers had their noses clipped to keep aromas from affecting the flavors of the samples that they were given.

What came as a surprise was that amino acids, which comprise the building blocks of fat, had a bad taste to the volunteers. That may seem surprising, considering that most people enjoy the taste of fatty foods. It is thought that it is the consistency associated with fat along with how it combines with other tastes, textures and aromas that make it gratifying to eat.

A professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue, Richard Mattes stated that “We have a situation where one form of fat is adding to the appeal of food and may encourage intake. While with another, the taste signal is aversive, discouraging consumption”.

It is thought that amino acids could cause this type of reaction because they are accumulate when fat breaks down and rotting food. The fact that the volunteers reacted negatively to the taste of amino acids could be a signal that warns against eating something that could be spoiled and can lead to illness.