Being a lifelong citizen of Texas, I am well versed in all manner of fatty foods…bacon wrapped anything, biscuits and gravy, and Whataburger. Oh Whataburger…no offense, but you are part of the reason I have to force myself to the gym.
We’re all familiar with the variety of delicious flavors our tongues are made to identify, but Dr. Nada Abumrad’s group (Washington University School of Medicine) has reported in the latest Journal of Lipid Research that our tongues may have receptors to identify fat itself. Yummy.
Previously, it was assumed that we recognized fat by texture, but studies in mice identified a gene called CD36 as a potential taste receptor for fatty acids.
In trying to build upon that work, this group investigated CD36 mutations in a group of people. Turns out, mutations in this gene affect the amount of CD36 you have, and thus dictate your ability to distinguish fat in your foods.
This raises some important genetic and dietary implications for obesity in humans. The thought is that those with the mutation causing less CD36 would have to eat more fatty foods to be satisfied, as they aren’t able to taste it as readily.
Conversely, individuals who constantly consume high-fat foods may build up a ‘tolerance’, lowering the CD36 their body makes, and likewise forcing them to eat more to be satiated.
At this point, those implications are merely hypotheses, but have merit and will be the questions of future work for this and other groups. In the meantime, I don’t know about you, but I’ll keep trying to limit my Whataburger intake, just to be on the safe side.
Thanks & Gig ‘Em.