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7 Taste Buds Facts that You Probably Don’t Know

7 Taste Buds Facts that You Probably Don’t Know
Salty, sweet, sour and bitter? Did you know there’s also umami? Read on!


What do you commonly know about taste buds? It tells us how certain food tastes – salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. Do you agree? Now, this indicates that really, you do not know much about taste buds. Here are some facts to surprise you:

  1. Taste buds are not the only ones responsible in telling us how one particular food tastes.

Your taste buds are not all alone in its task of informing you how sweet are the mangoes in your backyard or how salty is the popcorn prepared by your mom. Your sense of smell also does its part, along with temperature and texture. Don’t you fail to taste the sourness of your juice and the sweetness of your pancake whenever you get a cold?

  1. Taste buds pick up five – not four – taste receptors.

You taste food as sweet, sour, salty, and bitter – and umami. Yes, you got it right. It is a Japanese word that means “pleasant savory taste”. Umami is more known from its saltiness.

Human tongue, according to the discovery of scientists, has particular receptors for L-glutamate.

  1. As you age, your ability to taste doesn’t wane.

You can still enjoy eating meals and munching on snacks (healthy at that) as you grow old. However, women who are at the beginning of their menopausal period may experience a decline in its capacity to taste bitterness.

  1. Taste and flavor: They are not one and the same.

Your taste buds are the ones that help you distinguish whether the food served to you is sour, sweet, bitter, and salty. Flavor, on the other hand, combines taste and smell. The process, where your brain dictates the scent of what you eat, is called “retronasal olfaction”.

For instance, when you sniff an apple, a scent message will be delivered from your nostrils to one component of your brain. When you begin to eat it, a different kind of scent signal will be sent to a different part of your brain. The combination of scent message and taste therefore creates flavor.

The director of human research at the University of Florida Center for Smell and Taste, Linda Bartoshuk, PhD, said, however, that our brain can identify the  difference between smelling and the scent message; hence, the latter has nothing to do with flavor at all.

  1. Smokers are ‘taste buds killers’.

Smoking is not healthy as it causes diseases. But do you know that this habit also ‘eliminates’ taste buds or decreases the smokers’ abilities to taste?

  1. Not all taste buds are located on your tongue.

You’ve grown to believe that taste buds can be found on your tongue but you are all wrong. While majority resides on it, some are located in your mouths, as well as throats.

  1. Taste buds ‘die’ – but they ‘live’ again.

The life cycle of your taste buds starts from basal cells, grows into taste cells and then die and washed away. This phase takes about 10 days to two weeks.

You take the life of your taste buds each time you burn your tongue on hot foods, Dr. Bartoshuk said. But there’s nothing to worry because “they grow right back”.