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Surprise! Fat proves a taste sensation

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12:30pm, December 5, 2001

For decades, scientists who study the gustatory senses have argued that fat has no taste. Sure, it has texture and contributes to a food's perceived richness. However, conventional wisdom has held that our mouths lack taste buds or other sensors specifically tuned to fat.

That view may be slipping away.

By studying 19 adults, Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., has shown that the share of consumed fat that travels, as triglycerides, into a person's bloodstream

depends on whether the person tasted fat to begin with. Some as-yet-unidentified, fat-triggered oral stimuli appear to "prime the body to more efficiently absorb fats," he finds.

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