The ability to taste umami in food (the fifth taste) could be beneficial for general overall health, particularly in elderly people.
In a new study, published in the journal Flavour, scientists from Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry in Japan developed an umami taste sensitivity test and used it on 44 elderly patients. The taste tests revealed that the elderly patients who had lost their taste for umami also complained of appetite and weight loss.
Those who had problems tasting umami complained that food was no longer palatable and they were not eating normally. All of the patients were aged over 65 so their loss of taste could be due to aging, the study said.
But the researchers also suggested that diseases suffered by elderly patients and side effects from their medications could cause reduced salivation, leading to taste disorders.
“Thus, umami taste function seems to play an important role in the maintenance of oral and overall health,” the study authors concluded.