Saliva proteins can affect the taste of certain foods

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(Caracas, August 26. Europa Press) – Scientists have discovered that saliva proteins could be part of a feedback loop that influences the taste of people for certain foods and, by extension, which type of food they prefer to eat.

Researchers who presented their results at the 256th National Assembly and Exhibition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) – & # 39; the world's largest scientific society – hope that their findings will one day help consumers to follow a more balanced diet. healthy.

Many healthy foods, such as broccoli and dark chocolate, have a bitter taste, recalls Cordelia A. Running, a researcher at Purdue University in West Lafayette (United States), who was out to make sure that eating bitter food is overcoming people the aversion to bitter compounds, so they could eat more of this healthy diet without getting chills. "By changing your diet, you may be able to change your experience taste of food that was uncomfortable at a certain moment, "he says.

Although saliva is almost completely water, it contains thousands of proteins released by the salivary glands. It is believed that some of these proteins bind to flavors in food and also taste receptors in the mouth.

Certain proteins may be responsible for contracting sensations, such as dryness and roughness, that develop during eating some chocolates, red wine and other food. "If we can change the expression of these proteins, we may be able to weaken the" bad "flavors such as bitterness and astringent," explains Running, the lead researcher.

In an earlier work with rats, Running researcher colleague Ann-Marie Torregrossa and her colleagues showed that a bitter diet changed the expression of proteins in the rodent's saliva. These changes in protein composition correlate with the feeding behavior of the rats.

After initially reducing bitter food, the animals apparently had less bitterness and resume normal feed levels. Inspired by the work of Torregrossa, who is now at the University of Buffalo, Running decided to see if the same would happen to people.

The Running team performed sensory evaluation tests in which participants drank almond milk and chocolate three times a day for a week and assessed their bitterness and astringent. The researchers discovered that the protein composition of the participants' saliva changed in that week.

several proteins rich in proline, which can bind the bitter / astringent compounds in chocolate, increased after the babyr the milk of almonds and chocolate. Changes in these proteins were consistent with changes in sensory evaluations: when these proteins changed, the sensory scores for bitterness and adstringence were reduced. "We believe that the body adapts to reduce the negative sensation of these bitter compounds," explains Running.

The findings to date support the idea that "saliva modifies taste, which in turn changes food choices," he says. These options influence the exposure to the flavors, which over time can stimulate the altered expression of the saliva proteins and the circle starts again. Maybe this knowledge helps someone to follow a healthier diet long enough to adapt. "

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