Saturday, January 16, 2010

Want Tastier Food? Add Calcium

Aside from molecules that trigger specific taste buds (salty, sweet), other substances have no flavor of their own but enhance flavors they are paired with - known as "kokumi" taste. Calcium is now believed to be a kukomi element.

Calcium, as well as calcium channels (which sense and regulate calcium levels), on the tongue are the targets of compounds that can enhance taste.

Calcium channels are closely related to the receptors that sense base flavors and kukomi ingredients are enhanced when they interact with calcium channels. During tests, those molecules that induced the highest activity in calcium receptors also elicited the strongest flavor enhancement. Moreover, blocking calcium channels reduced flavor experience.

Maybe mom was on to something when she made sure you finished your milk!

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