LOS ANGELES, CA - Pasta, waffles, and pastries. Can you sense the carbs? No, literally: researchers think they could be “the 6th taste." We all know sweet, savory, bitter, sour, and as of 2007, "umami." Now a new study published in the journal Chemical Senses reveals that our tongues are able to taste "starchiness."
The researchers at Oregon State University were surprised that people in the study were able to detect starch (a substance previously thought to be tasteless) with the “sweet” receptors on their tongues blocked.
When given liquid solutions of carbohydrates, they described the taste as “cereal-like” or “rice-like.”
The researchers say it does make sense because humans use starch as a major source of energy. And it definitely isn’t surprising to anyone who’s ever had a craving that can only be satisfied by a deep dish pizza or the bread basket.
Still, some experts aren’t ready to add carbs to the list yet -- and it has competition. Other studies have examined how humans are able to distinguish “flavors” like fat, and even water. Research continues because scientists want to know how the way we detect flavors in our food affects our health. And we’ll keep trying to “taste carbs” -- in the name of science, of course.