Scientists Have Discovered a Potential “Sixth Taste” and It’s Very Exciting

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

In 2009 “umami” snagged the title of “fifth taste,” joining the ranks of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Since then, scientists have toyed with adding even more tastes including kokumi, a sort of mouthfeel, and oleogustus, the taste of fat. But in the last couple days a new “sixth taste” has garnered a lot of attention, and it might help explain your undying love for pasta and toast.

Jessica Hamzelou reported for New Scientist that carbs might have a taste of their own. Juyun Lim at Oregon State University explains why “starchy” makes sense as a taste: “Every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate. The idea that we can’t taste what we’re eating doesn’t make sense.”

In a new study, Lim and her team attempted to isolate starchiness and identify it as a taste. She gave volunteers various carbohydrate solutions to see if they could identify the starchy taste in solutions that contained long and short carbohydrate chains. Lim says of the study that “Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like. It’s like eating flour.”

While this study is a start, there’s still a long way to go until carbs are recognized as an official sixth taste. Lim and her team, for example, have yet to find the starch receptors on the tongue.

Read More About the New “Sixth Taste” from New Scientist: There Is Now a Sixth Taste – and It Explains Why We Love Carbs