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Evidence supporting oral sensitivity to complex carbohydrates independent of sweet taste sensitivity in humans

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by Yu Qing Low, Katie LacyKatie Lacy, R L McBride, Russell KeastRussell Keast
Compared to simple sugars, complex carbohydrates have been assumed invisible to taste. However, two recent studies proposed that there may be a perceivable taste quality elicited by complex carbohydrates independent of sweet taste. There is precedent with behavioural studies demonstrating that rats are very attracted to complex carbohydrates, and that complex carbohydrates are preferred to simple sugars at low concentrations. This suggests that rats may have independent taste sensors for simple sugars and complex carbohydrates. The aim of this paper is to investigate oral sensitivities of two different classes of complex carbohydrates (a soluble digestible and a soluble non-digestible complex carbohydrate), and to compare these to other caloric and non-nutritive sweeteners in addition to the prototypical tastes using two commonly used psychophysical measures. There were strong correlations between the detection thresholds and mean intensity ratings for complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin, oligofructose) (r = 0.94, P < 0.001). There were no significant correlations between the detection thresholds of the complex carbohydrates (maltodextrin, oligofructose) and the sweeteners (glucose, fructose, sucralose, Rebaudioside A, erythritol) (all P > 0.05). However, moderate correlations were observed between perceived intensities of complex carbohydrates and sweeteners (r = 0.48-0.61, P < 0.05). These data provide evidence that complex carbohydrates can be sensed in the oral cavity over a range of concentrations independent of sweet taste sensitivity at low concentrations, but with partial overlap with sweet taste intensity at higher concentrations.



PLoS One






e0188784 - e0188784


Public Library of Science (PLoS)


San Francisco, Calif.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2017, The Authors