Carbs are getting some respect since new studies from the Oregon State University show that a new taste named starchiness might have been discovered. According to scientists, humans can taste carbohydrates, leaving behind the concept of just five flavors.

Up until now, it was believed by the scientific community that as enzymes in our mouth break carbohydrates down to sugar, the taste of carbs was assumed to be perceived as sweet by human beings. But now, Researcher Juyun Lim, who is a food science and technology professor at the Oregon University, notes that people can taste carbohydrates. So it might be time to add “starchy” on the flavor list. He says that every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate, whether it is rice, pasta, or potatoes, so it doesn’t make sense that people are not able to taste them.

French Fries
French fries. Image credit:

It tastes ‘like eating flour’

Right now, scientists speak freely about five tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and, more recently, umami, but it might all be changing. To prove her hypothesis, Lim alongside her team at the Oregon State University, made a study testing 100 people in five experiments to analyze their ability to differentiate tastes.

She noted that people could pick out a solution containing long or short carbohydrate chains and identify them as “starchy”; people said it tasted “like eating flour,” even when she included in the solution a compound that blocked the sweet receptors on the tongue.

Carbohydrates. Image credit:

Commonly, scientists have thought that the group of sweet receptors in the tongue detect the starch derivate. But this experiment shows that even when these receptors were blocked people could still detect starchy taste. Therefore, it gives way hereafter to consider starch as a taste, which is as well an excellent source of sustained energy.

“Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like. It’s like eating flour” said Lim about the experiment.

There might be more ‘unknown’ tastes

The revolutionary study might also explain why people find starchy food so comforting. People love pasta, rice, pizza, now according to this study these foods would not produce a reaction in the sweet receptors but in the starch receptors. However, Lim and her team must keep on investigating to find the starch receptors on the tongue so that it can qualify as a primary taste.

And this could also explain why we find starchy foods comforting. However, Lim and her team still need to find it, to qualify it as a primary taste. Other scientists are looking into the possibilities that fat, calcium, and blood could be tastes.

This revolutionary study has made scientists think that human taste might be a little more complicated that it was previously thought. Researchers seek to find the starch receptors on the tongue so that it can be added as the 6th primary taste. Certainly, science is moving on from the initial concept of just five tastes.

Just as revolutionary as when the umami receptors were found, could be the revolution of the starch taste. The idea that people can taste more than five tastes is a possibility for scientists to discover if fat, calcium, blood and more are their own taste.

Source: Newser