A USA research team has found that, within in the taste buds on the tongue is a chemical receptor identifying fat molecules.
Tasting Fat h, Findings, Tongue, Taste-buds, Fat
In a twist on scientific thinking, the long-held belief that the human tongue was capable of detecting only the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, salt and bitter has been once again shown to be wrong.
It was quite some time ago now that the ability of the organ to detect savoury flavours was uncovered - also dubbed unami - but now research has turned up the fact that taste buds are also attuned to the recognition, by taste, of fat.
A USA research team has found that, within in the taste buds on the tongue is a chemical receptor identifying fat molecules, though individual sensitivities vary, which could account for some people being prone to higher fat consumption simply because these receptors are less active, making them less aware of the fat taste.
As an aid to the combating of global obesity, researchers want to see this knowledge exploited, increasing the sensitivity to fat in food of everybody who is interested. One should remember also that olfactory influences play a big part in diet, part of the attraction of food being the way it smells.
The St Louis Washington State University Team demonstrated that people heavier concentrations of receptor CD36 could detect the presence of fat in food more easily, but that genetic variations determined individual sensitivity.
Understanding how human food perceptions influence dietary considerations, and the amount of fat consumed, can best be achieved through continuing research. Having found one potential reason for individual variability in how people sense fat, what next need be determined is whether this senses affects fat intake and impacts on the obesity problem.
Findings showed that people with only 50% of the CD36 receptors were 8 X less sensitive to the presence of fat, and since as many as 20% of the population are believed to have the CD36 gene variant associated with lower receptor levels, making them more prone to obesity.
Research head Dr Yanina Pepino commented that following the results of tests on animals, high-fat diets would actually lead to less CD36 production, making someone less sensitive to the fat taste, so it may be that one reason for so much obesity is the simple inability of people to detect the fat in their food by taste. If the receptor gene growth could be encouraged, it might make a big difference to a lot of lives.