Fat is a flavor?

Researchers at Australia's Deakin University have published a paper in the British Journal of Nutrition showing evidence that human beings can taste fat -- that is, they can distinguish between two flavourless solutions in which one has more fat than the other.

I believe that this is true -- and that fat can offset bitterness the same way that sweet can. For example, raw cacao nibs mixed with cashew nuts taste sweet and chocolatey.

"We know that the human tongue can detect five tastes -- sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (a savoury, protein-rich taste contained in foods such as soy sauce and chicken stock)," Russell Keast, from Deakin University, said Monday.

"Through our study we can conclude that humans have a sixth taste -- fat."

Researchers tested 30 people's ability to taste a range of fatty acids in otherwise plain solutions and found that all were able to determine the taste -- though some required higher concentrations than others.

Australian researchers say fat is 'sixth taste' (via Kottke)

(Image: Beale's Open Kettle Rendered Pure Lard, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Steve Snodgrass' photostream)