Washington: A new study has revealed that humans can use the sense of smell to detect dietary fat in food.
As food smell almost always is detected before taste, the findings identify one of the first sensory qualities that signals whether a food contains fat.
"The human sense of smell is far better at guiding us through our everyday lives than we give it credit for," senior author Johan Lundstrom, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist at Monell Center, said. "That we have the ability to detect and discriminate minute differences in the fat content of our food suggests that this ability must have had considerable evolutionary importance."
While previous research had determined that humans could use the sense of smell to detect high levels of pure fat in the form of fatty acids, it was not known whether it was possible to detect fat in a more realistic setting, such as food.
In the current study the researchers asked whether people could detect and differentiate the amount of fat in a commonly consumed food product, milk.
It was found that participants could use the sense of smell to discriminate different levels of fat in the milk.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.