Recent studies by Richard D. Mattes, Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University reveal fat as the sixth primary taste, in addition to sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.
Nonesterefied fatty acid, or NEFA, mapping demonstrates a difference among the other five primary taste receptors shown through the length of the amino acid chain. As a triglyceride, fatty acid is the longest amino acid among the five tastes, indicating a qualitative difference. Triglycerides were once thought to be distinguished by aroma and texture instead of taste; however, Matte's recent research exhibits fat receptors in both the mouth and intestines.
Mattes and his team discovered that fat interacts with the tongue receptors exactly the same as the other primary tastes. This discovery implies a significant change in the food and healthcare industry, from enhancing the taste of low-fat foods to reducing obesity.
Foods manipulated with fat taste can be substituted for fat tasting foods, not only to enhance the taste of low-fat foods, but also find the link between fatty acids receptors and obesity. Manipulating fat taste and introducing fat flavor substitutes is predicted to supplement flavor companies responding to health conscious consumers.