Dietary fats contribute to the flavor of foods by multiple mechanisms. A role for their taste has only recently gained credence. Current evidence indicates non‐esterified fatty acids (NEFA) are the effective stimuli for the taste component. CD36 and GPR120 are putative receptors, but may not fully account for the totality of the range of sensations elicited by fatty acids. The sensory quality of long‐chain NEFA is not adequately characterized by commonly accepted taste primary qualities and has been termed oleogustus. There is marked individual variability in sensitivity to the taste of NEFA prompting hypotheses of genetic and environmental determinants. Though an association with BMI has been proposed, the preponderance of evidence is not supportive. The importance of oleogustus has not been fully established, but likely contributes to flavor, which influences food choice as well as lipid metabolism and chronic disease risk. A better understanding of oleogustus may provide insights useful for product formulation.


This is the author-accepted manuscript version of Running, CA and Mattes, RD. (2016) "A Review of the Evidence Supporting the Taste of Non-esterified Fatty Acids in Humans." Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 93 (10): 1325-1336. Copyright Wiley, the version of record is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s11746-016-2885-7.

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