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Taste of Nutrients: Amino Acids, Vitamins and Fatty Acids

Taste of Nutrients: Amino Acids, Vitamins and Fatty Acids

If you have ever eaten with a blocked nose you will know that our ability taste food depends hugely our sense of smell

The table below is the result of a study which interpreted the taste perception of different nutrients.

These included

  • amino acids – that make up proteins we eat
  • fatty acids – components of oils
  • vitamins

It is no surprise that the known smelly compounds – cysteine, methionine, phenylalanine and thiamine – are described as obnoxious and poisonous

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Amino Acids
AlamineThis is a good tastine substance which is sweet, flavorous, flat and foodlike. The taste does not remain totally constant over time, however. Several subjects though the aftertaste was similar to saccharin
ArginineThis is a sharp, alkaline, bitter, relatively constant taste which is described as strong, concentrated, and repulsive. It is a complex taste with minerally and salty elements, and is judged to be somewhat poisonous.
Aspartic AcidThis is a strong, rapidly developing taste which is both tingling and sharp. Overall, it is less pleasant than ascorbic acid as well as being more dry.
Cysteine HClCysteine is a distinctly obnoxious tasting compound. It is strong, concentrated and nauseous; it was uniformly considered poisonous. Its rather complex, slowly developing taste was compared with sewage, rotten eggs and sulfue. No sour, sweet, or salty elements were noted by the subjects, although some found it to be bitter.
GlutamineThis is a soft, smooth substance with a sweetish, meaty taste. It is considered distincly stale with a fatty element, and is somewhat unpleasant.
GlycineThis is a sweet, pleasant, refreshing taste. It is described as simple and food-like; it is also considered very wet and smooth.
Histidine HClThis is a complex, yet very clear tasted with salty, sour, and bitter components. It is described as obnoxious, sharp, tingling, pungent, and extremely concentrated. It is definitely not foodlike.
IsoleucineThis is a weak, tasteless compound with a flat, dry consistency. It is considered constant, not foodlike, and somewhat unpleasant. It is also rated as alkaline.
leucineThis is virtually indistinguishable from isoleucine
Lysine HClLysine is a somewhat complex substance which is salty with come bitter components, It is described as rapidly developing, sharp and constant
MethionineThis is a very repulsive, metallic, minerally substance which some subjects judged to be bitter. It is dry, smooth, somewhat nauseous, and considered poisonous by over half of the subjects.
PhenylalanineThis is an obnoxious, minerally, metallic, bitter tasting substance. Its complex taste is sharom thick, stale, concentrated, and dry. It has a pungent quality and also induces a strangling sensation
ProlineThis is a constant, rapidly developing, minerally, salty, sour substance. Although it is judged to be sharp, its complex taste is warming, flavorous, and not altogether unpleasant. Half the subjects detected a sweet quality in proline.
SerineSerine has a constant, clear, sweet taste. It is also judged to be good, soft, smooth and foodlike.
ThreonineThis is a moderately fatty, soft-textured substance. The taste is considered neither good nor bad by the subjects. Although it is not salty, sour or bitter, it does have a slight sweetness.
TryptophanThis is a rapidly developing, sharp, bitter tasting substance. It is also labeled dry, minerally, stale, hard and poisonous.
TyrosineThe most salient characteristic of this substance is its lack of any defined taste, It is not salty, sweet, sour or bitter. It is described as soft, dry, flat and stale
ValineThis is a weak, dry, flat, minerally substance which is judged neither good not bad. It is judged to be unclear, leading to little agreement among the subjects. It is probably slightly bitter, with possible sour or sweet components. It is flat, constant, and unconcentrated
Linoeleic AcidThis is a complex, deceidely unpleasant, smooth, fatty tasting liquid which is rated strangling, nauseous, and slowly developing. It is also considered minerally, soapy and pungent.
Linolenic AcidLinolenic acid has a taste very similar to linoleic acid except that it is not quit as unpleasant or soapy. It is also somewhat warming.
Oleic AcidThis is an unpleasant, smooth, fatty tasting liquid with a consistency slightly thicker than water. It is judged to be constant, and develops fairly rapidly.
Palmitoleic AcidThus substance is fatty, minerally, bitter, and replusive, It is judged to be complex, having a hot, soapy quality. Unlike oleic acid, this substance is judged pungent, burning, extremely strangling, and poisonous.
Retinoic Acid (Vitamin A)This is a weak, stale tasting chemical which has a fairly dry quality to it. Uniformly, it was not judged to be sweet, sour, salty or bitter. It is not particularly good or bad. Half the subjects found that it had a definite taste, while the other half tended to judge it more tasteless
Thiamine HCl (Vitamin B1)This is an extremely obnoxious sour-bitter substance which has strong, sharp, burning, bitey qualities as well. It is judged to be clear, smooth, concentrated, and poisonous. It also has a pungent quality as well
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)This is a constant, extremely strong, bitter substance which is considered dry, minerally and stale. Although it has no burning qualities, it is consistenly judged to be obnoxious
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)This is a practically tasteless red powder which has no salty, sweet, sour or bitter qualities. It is thick, stale, dry and flat.
Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)This is a clear, strong, constant sour taste. Its flavorous taste develops rapidly and is described as tingling, sharp, acidic and fruity. The subjects were divided on its hedonic quality, with half finding it pleasant and half finding it somwhat unpleasant
Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2)This chemical is virtually tasteless. It is described as weak, flat, dry, thick, and stale, and is considered neither pleasant nor unpleasant.
Tocopherol (Vitamin E)This is a very fatty, repulsive tasting, thick brown oil which, though obnoxious, is considered foodlike, simple, constant, clear, and flat. One subject suggested that it bore a resembalne to concentrated beef fat.
Vitamin K1This is judged to be an almost tasteless, fatty substance. It is classified as soft, smooth, simple, and flat. Two subjects found it moderately sweet.

Taste of nutrients: Amino acids, vitamins, and fatty acids – Shiffman S. and Dackis C. – Perception & Psychophysics 1975. Vol. 17 (2). 140-146

1 thought on “Taste of Nutrients: Amino Acids, Vitamins and Fatty Acids

  1. Hi, this is a great resource

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