Scientists have found evidence that humans can pick up a sixth taste associated with carbohydrate-rich foods, as bakery products, potatoes or rice, which they named “starchy”.
Until now, it was believed that humans could only detect five different primary tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and, added to the list seven years ago, umami. But now researchers claim we’re capable of tasting a “starchy” flavour too.
Juyun Lim, Associate Professor of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University, conducted the research, which suggests that our palate can detect carbohydrates founds in foods such as pasta, potatoes and bread.
“I believe that’s why people prefer complex carbs,” lead researcher Juyun Lim from Oregon State University said to New Scientist.
“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.”
“They called the taste ‘starchy’. Asians would say it was ‘rice-like’, while Caucasians described it as ‘bread-like’ or ‘pasta-like’. It’s like eating flour,” Lim told New Scientist.
Next the subjects were given a special compound that specifically blocked the receptors on their tongues that picked up sweet tastes, and then a compound that blocked the enzyme that breaks down long-chain carbohydrates.
This step was crucial, because until now, the consensus was that humans couldn’t detect the taste of carbs. The notion was that because carbs break down so rapidly, only a sweet taste was left over from the sugar molecules that make them up. So when we taste carbs, previous research suggested we only taste sweet.