(DELISH) Fatty foods on the brain? Next time you reach for that extra bag of chips, blame your taste buds.
According to Science Daily, researchers at the University of Washington found that our tongues not only recognize, but may also be partial to fat.
The study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, shows that some people are more sensitive to the fat in foods than others. Individuals that were more sensitive to the fat in food were found to have a specific variant of the CD36 gene.
The study tested 21 people who are considered obese, based on their body mass index. The participants tasted substances from three separate cups. While one of the cups was filled with small amounts of a fatty oil, the others had fat-free liquids with the same oily texture.
Participants were then told "to choose the cup that was different." To keep the subjects from seeing or smelling the liquid, the researchers masked visual cues with a red lamp and required that participants wear nose clips.
Ultimately, the subjects had varying amounts of the CD36 protein. It is thought that up to 20 percent of people have a variant in the CD36 gene that makes considerably less of the CD36 protein. According to the study, people with less CD36 protein are most likely to be less sensitive to fatty foods.
While, in the past, researchers believed that people recognized fat only by texture, this study shows that fat actually changes the way a person's tongue perceives the food it happens to be tasting. This is similar to the way taste buds recognize the five general tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami).
Dr. Nada A. Abumrad, senior investigator in the study, stated that a better understanding of the CD36 gene — and the affinity for fat based on the amount of CD36 protein that individuals produce — could help the fight against obesity. Apparently, a high-fat diet could influence the CD36 gene to make less protein, ultimately making the individual less sensitive to fat. In the end, our tongues' affinity for fat stems from both genetic and dietary factors.
Will the fact that our tongues are partial to fat change the way you think about eating fatty foods?
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