Our tongue has been known to pick up 5 different tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
However, scientists have found proof
than there’s this 6th
taste related to carbohydrate-rich foods. The study, published in Chemical Senses, might explain why we love bread, pasta, and other starchy foods so much.
"I believe that’s why people prefer complex carbs," said lead researcher Juyun Lim from Oregon State University. "Sugar tastes great in the short term, but if you’re offered chocolate and bread, you might eat a small amount of the chocolate, but you’d choose the bread in larger amounts, or as a daily staple."
Together with her colleagues, she gathered 22 participants and asked them to taste different solutions with different levels of carbohydrates. The participants were then asked to rate how each solution tasted. "They called the taste 'starchy'.” Lim said. “Asians would say it was 'rice-like', while Caucasians described it as 'bread-like' or 'pasta-like'. It’s like eating flour."
The participants were then given a special solution to block the receptors on their tongues that pick up sweet tastes and another compound to block the enzyme that breaks down carbohydrate molecules. Because as previous research suggests, when we taste carbs, we only taste sweet. That is due to the fact that carbs break down so fast that we can only taste the sugar molecules that make them up.
After those, the participants were still able to taste what’s described as “starchy” flavor. This led the researchers to conclude that humans are able to taste carbohydrates. "Every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate. The idea that we can’t taste what we’re eating doesn’t make sense," Lim said.
With this, the researchers hope to soon identify the specific places on the tongue that pick up such starchy taste. Well, it just goes to show how we still have much to explore on our own bodies!