Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana have isolated the sixth taste -- fat. The scientists said that fat can be put in the list of taste along with sweet, sour, bitter and savory (umami), which they believe could be helpful in fighting obesity.
Researchers defined the taste of fat as "oleagustus," combining Latin terms for oil and taste, Forbes reported Wednesday. The taste is related to the fat sensation that is detected by the tongue while eating foods containing fatty acids.
For the study, volunteers were told to taste food samples laced with chemicals representative of basic tastes and fatty acids. Researchers clipped the noses of the respondents so that the food aroma -- an important factor in flavor -- did not hamper the tasting. At least 64 percent of the participants were able to detect the taste of fat.
The results showed that fatty acids created specific tastes and based on the acids' chemical structure, the taste varied from sour to bitter. However, majority of the participants reportedly described the taste of fat as "irritating and consistently unpalatable."
"Our experiments provide a missing element in the evidence that fat has a taste sensation, and that it is different from other tastes," Professor Richard Mattes, co-author of the study, told the Independent.
Many scientists believe that thick, creamy consistency of fat, along with a combination of other tastes, aromas and textures, makes the taste of fat satisfying.
The study results could help finding a person's indulgence for specific food, which can prove helpful in tackling obesity. "Identifying the taste of fat has a range of important health implications. At high concentrations, the signal it generates would dissuade the eating of rancid foods," Mattes reportedly said.
The study was published on July 3 in the journal Chemical Senses.