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Scientists May Have Discovered a Sixth Taste: Calcium

Calcium = The Sixth Taste?


Scientists in Philadelphia have discovered that mice can taste calcium. Since humans and rodents share many of the same genes, the human tongue should taste calcium as well. For centuries the four basic tastes were sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. However when umami, the fifth "savory" taste, was recognized 100 years ago, the door opened to research other tastes. According to Michael Tordoff, a geneticist who participated in the mice study, a human's palate can detect the mineral. It tastes:

Calcium tastes calcium-y, there isn't a better word for it. It is bitter, perhaps even a little sour. But it's much more because there are actual receptors for calcium, not just bitter or sour compounds.

Tordoff claims that the bitterness of certain vegetables, like bok choy or dark greens, is due to high levels of calcium. Although milk is full of calcium, the fats prevent us from tasting it.

Since I've always thought it was crazy that only four basic tastes exist, the discovery is incredibly interesting, and I think that maybe I've tasted calcium. What do you make of the findings? Have you ever tasted calcium?

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