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About Taste

About Taste

How Taste Works

Umami, the 5th Taste

The Importance of Taste

The Role of Smell in What We Taste

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The Importance of Taste

Not only does food nourish the body, it provides nourishment for the soul. It's because of taste that eating is considered a pleasurable experience—one that we like to repeat several times a day—instead of a boring chore!

One reason that taste (and smell) sensations are important is that they prepare our bodies for digesting food. For example, tasting and smelling food trigger our salivary glands and digestive "juices". Without them, our stomachs wouldn't be ready for food, and we'd have trouble digesting food and making use of the nutrients we get from food.

There's another reason why taste and smell are crucial to our health—these senses provide information about our food. For example, the aroma of a food can sometimes tell us if the food is fresh, such as with fish or meat. After one bite or even a tiny taste of some foods, we can often detect "off" flavors that may signal that the food has spoiled. In effect, we learn to rely on our senses of taste and smell to warn us away from foods that may be dangerous.

Finally, the ability to taste is so crucial to the act of eating that when we can't taste our food we just don't have the desire to eat as much as we usually do. Weight loss is common for people who can't taste or smell their food for whatever reason. For some of us this may be desirable, but for others it can lead to impaired immunity, poor nutritional status and the worsening of some diseases.

The ability to taste and smell our food is vitally important for our health and well-being. For some people who may have a diminished sense of taste, using a flavor enhancer such as monosodium glutamate can help counteract the problem.

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