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Bland Compounds That Activate The Tongue’s Calcium Channels Can Enhance Flavors

January 8, 2010: 01:42 PM EST
Sounds like the food industry’s Holy Grail: substances that make bland, potentially healthier food – without sugar or salt – taste good. But scientists say it’s possible, thanks to so-called calcium channels found on the tongue. It is well known that some molecules trigger specific taste buds (salty, sweet, bitter, etc.), but apparently bland substances can also help enhance flavor. In this study, various compounds that activated the calcium channels in cells were diluted in salt water, sugar water, etc. Turns out the molecules that induced the most calcium receptor activity also elicited the strongest flavors in taste tests with volunteers.
Takeaki Ohsu, Yusuke Amino, et al., "Involvement of the Calcium-sensing Receptor in Human Taste Perception", Journal of Biological Chemistry, January 08, 2010, © American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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