There Could Be A Secret Sixth Taste That Explains Our Love Of Carbs


Scientists believe there could be a secret new taste that helps explain our love of pasta [Photo: Josh Sorenson via Pexels]

Scooch over sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. Turns out there might be a new taste on the chopping block and it could explain why we crave carbs.

A new study from Oregon State University in Corvallis suggests ‘starchy’ might be the secret sixth flavour and it could explain a lot about our food cravings.

Scientists previously believed that our love of delicious carbs - pasta, bread, frankly anything carby, was simply down to the sugars present. They thought our love of the carby-stuff was down to the interaction of the sweetness taste profile. But the latest research suggests that starch could be a taste in it’s own right. Go starch!

This study suggests that actually, starch is a taste in its own right.

Juyun Lim, a researcher on the study, said, “Every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate. The idea that we can’t taste what we’re eating doesn’t make sense.”

As New Scientist reports, complex carbohydrates such as starch are made of chains of sugar molecules and are an important source of energy in our diets. However, food scientists have tended to ignore the idea that we might be able to specifically taste them, says Lim. Because enzymes in our saliva break starch down into shorter chains and simple sugars, many have assumed we detect starch by tasting these sweet molecules.


Could starch explain our love of bread? [ via Pexels]

For the study, researchers gave volunteers a range of different carbohydrate solutions, containing both long and short carbohydrate chains.

The participants were able to make out floury flavours and tended to prefer more complex carbs over more sugar-focused treats, like chocolate.

When given solutions with both long and short carbohydrate chains, the participants called the taste ‘starchy’, with Asian participants describing the flavour as ‘rice-like’, while Caucasians described it as ‘bread-like’ or ‘pasta like’.


Our love of chips could be down to loving the taste of starch [Photo: via Pexels]

Testers were even able to make out the ‘starchy’ flavour when they were given compounds that blocked their tongue’s receptors for sweet tastes – which seems to suggest that starch and sugars are actually separate tastes. Who knew?

The results could help to shed light on why we all love bread, pasta and other carby deliciousness (especially on a hangover!) because we specifically love the taste of starch.

So next time you feel like indulging in a big ole carb-fest, do it. Science told you to! Well, more or less.

What do you think of the new research? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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