You aren’t just craving mac and cheese and creamy mashed potatoes because they sound tasty. You actually love the taste of starch.
Along with salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami, “starchy” could be the next officially recognized taste.
At least, that’s the thinking behind a study led by Oregon State University’s Juyun Lim. When she served volunteers different carbohydrates, they were able to taste starch in both long and short carbohydrate chains.
Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like. Its like eating flour,” Lim tells New Scientist.
The volunteers had sweet taste receptors blocked, which hints that humans can detect carbohydrates even before they are broken down into sugar molecules. And more evidence suggests shorter chain carbohydrates give the “floury” taste.
Lim says this is the first evidence that starch may be a flavor. Michael Tordoff, Ph.D. at Monell Chemical Senses Center agrees that this could mean your craving for carbs is at least partially driven by that special starchy taste.
Further studies must be done until starch can officially be considered a taste, since a taste must “be recognizable, have [its] own set of tongue receptors, and trigger some kind of useful physiological response,” as well as being useful to our bodies.
Lim feels that last criteria is key, considering starches can give the body slow-release energy. She says, “Sugar tastes great in the short term, but if youre offered chocolate and bread, you might eat a small amount of the chocolate, but youd choose the bread in larger amounts, or as a daily staple.
Until starch is proven as a taste, your daily 11 a.m. baguette is really just gluttony. That doesn’t mean you should stop eating it.
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