National: Move Over Umami

Umami – that savory taste of meat – gets all the press. Small wonder then that the two of the four other tastes (sweet, salty, sour and bitter) are so aptly named. Perhaps now’s the chance for this flavor darling to get squeezed out of the limelight… at least for a little bit.

Fox News reports that scientists may have discovered a sixth taste. Celebrating this new discovery would be a bit premature, however, as (ta-da!) this is the taste of calcium. Yes, calcium: of broccoli, spinach, and collard greens.

You’re probably not alone if you try to avoid these leafy veggies — but that may be precisely the fault of these new-found taste receptors: calcium in large quantities tends to have an unpleasantly bitter taste.

There may be reason to rejoice about this discovery, after all, according to Michael Tordoff, a behavioral geneticist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

People don’t consume as much calcium as nutritionists would like, and one reason for this is that foods high in calcium don’t taste good to many people. Tweaking the taste could encourage a calcium-deficient population to consume more of this key nutrient.

That’s um, great and everything, but in the meantime – pass the pork, would you?

Yes, MSG, the Secret Behind the Savor [NY Times]
Sixth (and Fifth) ‘Taste’ Possibly Discovered [Fox]

[Photo: via aquatone282/flickr]

National: Move Over Umami