Food molecules influence our taste

20. Sep. 2015 • Lekárske vedy

Food molecules influence our taste

It has been scientifically proven that we sense the taste of certain foods later than the taste of others, due to the different molecule sizes.  

When we eat, we often talk about what we taste or smell. However, most of us do not know what is behind it. We taste with our tongue – with its taste buds.  We detect 5 basic tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (Umami is a taste common to meat and fish and strongest in Arabic and Indian foods). When we ingest food, the taste of the molecules already dissolved in water gets to our taste receptors first and creates the primary food taste.  These molecules are the small molecules.  As we chew, we release other molecules from our food to our saliva - these molecules get to our taste receptors later. There are enzymes in our saliva that break down complex molecules to smaller ones (which can be detected by our taste buds) so that we can recognize their taste. These big molecules are responsible for the so-called aftertaste. Taste is subjective, because each person responds to individual stimuli differently. A soup may seem too salty for one person and not salty enough for another. We perceive the taste of food together with its smell. Oral and nasal cavities are connected, so even if we chew our food, we sense its smell and our brain perceives it along with its taste. This is why we will not enjoy a meal that does not smell good, even if it is very tasty.

This issue may be studied in the field of:

  • Medicine
  • Biology

Author: Zuzana Bogárová, FMFI UK, P-mat n.o.


Published by: ZČ

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