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Kolasa: Oleogustus the newest taste

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Q I read that in addition to sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, new research suggests that there is another basic taste called “oleogustus” or the taste of fat. Can you tell us about it? — R.K., Greenville

A Life was simpler years ago when I taught a course called “Sensory Foods.” We didn’t have the modern technology to study how our tongues and/or brain respond to different stimuli. A consumer just reported if it was sweet, salty, sour or bitter. “Umami” or a savory smooth taste usually from monosodium glutamate (MSG) was discovered in the early 1900s in Asia, but we didn’t start teaching about it until the late 1990s here in the U.S. Now researchers at Purdue University have named another taste sensation “oleogustus.” Sarita Lavani, a third-year Brody medical student, wants to tell you about it.


Oleogustus refers to a specific component of triglycerides called “fatty acids.” If you have had a lipid panel drawn at your doctor’s office, you probably know that it is considered best to keep your blood triglyceride levels below 200 mg/dL for heart health. If your level is higher than that, your doctor probably told you to eat less fat, simple sugars and drink less alcohol.

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