In Brief

Scientists discover 'sixth taste' for carbohydrates

Researchers believe extra 'starchy' flavour might explain our love of bread and pasta

Scientists believe they have discovered a "sixth taste" that could be fuelling our carb cravings.

Until now, it was believed that humans could only detect five different primary tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and - added to the list seven years ago - umami (translated as "pleasant savoury taste"), but now researchers claim we're capable of tasting an extra "starchy" flavour too.

A study conducted by Oregon State University suggests that our palate can detect carbohydrates founds in foods such as pasta, potatoes and bread.

Speaking to the New Scientist, Oregon's Dr Juyun Lim said that "every culture has a major source of complex carbohydrate" and the "idea that we can't taste what we're eating doesn't make sense".

"Asians would say it was rice-like, while Caucasians described it as bread-like or pasta-like," he explained.

While scientists were unable to find receptors in the tongue that specifically detect starchy flavours, "which means it can't currently be declared as a primary taste", Dr Lim said it would be "a useful flavour for humans to be able to detect naturally as carbs are a good source of slow-releasing energy", says the Daily Telegraph.

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