Sixth taste – starch taste?
Zygmunt Zdrojewicz, Dominika Wyglądacz, Wojciech Przywara
Scientists from Oregon State University, USA, came up with the newest theory of the sixth taste – starch taste that might soon join the basic five tastes. This argument is supported by studies done on both animals and humans, the results of which seem to indicate the existence of separate receptors for starch taste, others than for sweet taste. Starch is a glucose homopolymer that forms an α-glucoside chain called glucosan or glucan. This polysaccharide constitutes the most important source of carbohydrates in food. It can be found in groats, potatoes, legumes, grains, manioc and corn. Apart from its presence in food, starch is also used in textile, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and stationery industries as well as in glue production. This polysaccharide is made of an unbranched helical structure – amylose (15–20%), and a structure that forms branched chains – amylopectin (80–85%). The starch structure, degree of its crystallisation or hydration as well as its availability determine the speed of food-contained starch hydrolysis by amylase. So far, starch has been considered tasteless, but the newest report shows that for people of different origins it is associated with various aliments specific for each culture. Apart from a number of scientific experiments using sweet taste inhibitors, the existence of the sixth taste is also confirmed by molecular studies. However, in order to officially include starch taste to the basic human tastes, it must fulfil certain criteria. The aim of the study is to present contemporary views on starch.