Research Shows Humans Have Distinct Taste for Fat




Research Shows Humans Have Distinct Taste for Fat 


WASHINGTON— 
Move over sweet and salty: Researchers say we have a distinct and basic taste for fat, too. But it's not nearly as delicious as it sounds.


The scientists propose expanding our taste palate to include fat along with sweet, salty, bitter, sour and relative newcomer umami.

A research team at Purdue University tested look-alike mixtures with different tastes. More than half of the 28 special tasters could distinguish fatty acids from the other tastes, according to a study published in the journal Chemical Senses.

Past research showed fat had a distinct feel in the mouth, but scientists removed texture and smell clues and people could still tell the difference.

"The fatty acid part of taste is very unpleasant,'' said study author Richard Mattes, a Purdue nutrition science professor. "I haven't met anybody who likes it alone. You usually get a gag reflex.''

Stinky cheese has high levels of the fat taste, and so does food that goes rancid, Mattes said. Yet we like it because it mixes well and brings out the best of other flavors, just like the bitter in coffee or chocolate, he said.

To qualify as a basic taste, a flavor has to have unique chemical signature, have specific receptors in our bodies for the taste, and people have to distinguish it from other tastes. Scientists had found the chemical signature and two specific receptors for fat, but showing that people could distinguish it was the sticky point.

Initially, Mattes found that people couldn't quite tell fat tastes when given a broad array of flavors. But when just given yucky tastes — bitter, umami, sour — they could find the fat.

The team started out with 54 people, but concentrated on the results from 28 who were better tasters in general.

Mattes and colleagues proposed calling the taste "oleogustus'', after Latin for fat taste. There is no single scientific authority that names senses.

Robin Dando, a Cornell University food scientist who wasn't part of the research, praised the study as "a pretty strong piece of evidence'' for a basic fat taste, but didn't like the suggested name, preferring to just call it fat.

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Astronomers Discover Most Earth-Like Planet Yet 


CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA— 
A planet remarkably similar to Earth and potentially capable of sustaining life has been discovered in a "habitable zone" around a distant sun-like star, U.S. scientists said on Thursday.

The planet, which is about 60 percent bigger than Earth, is located about 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered using NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a star that is similar in size and temperature to the sun.

"In my mind, this is the closest thing we have to another planet like the Earth," astronomer Jon Jenkins, with the U.S. space agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told reporters on a conference call.

Dubbed Kepler-452b, the planet is positioned about as far from its parent star as Earth is from the sun. At that distance, surface temperatures would be suitable for liquid water, a condition believed to be critical for life.

Scientists previously have found Earth-sized planets orbiting in stars' so-called "habitable zones", but those stars are cooler and smaller than the sun.

NASA launched the Kepler telescope in 2009 to survey a sampling of nearby stars in an attempt to learn if planets like Earth were common in the galaxy.

This is great progress in finding a planet like Earth that is similar in size and temperature around a sun-like star," said Kepler scientist Jeff Coughlin, with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

Based on its size, scientists believe Kepler-452b should be rocky, like the Earth, though that theory is based onstatistical analysis and computer modeling, not direct evidence.

Kepler-452b's parent star is about six billion years old, compared to the 4.6-billion-year age of the sun.

"It's simply awe-inspiring to consider that this planet has spent six billion years in the habitable zone of its star," Jenkins said.

"That's considerable time and opportunity for life to arise somewhere on its surface or in its oceans should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet," he added.

With the discovery of Kepler-452b, the telescope has found 1,030 confirmed planets and identified nearly 5,000 candidate planets. The list of potential planets includes 11 other near-Earth twins, seven of which circle sun-like stars.

Attempts to learn if Kepler-452b has an atmosphere likely will have to wait for a new generation of more sensitive space telescopes, said NASA's associate administrator John Grunsfeld.

Research Shows Humans Have Distinct Taste for Fat Research Shows Humans Have Distinct Taste for Fat Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 6:56 PM Rating: 5

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