A Spoonful of Taste

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Adding salt and sugar is often necessary to make food tastier, but too much of either can be unhealthy.

Enter scientists, who are coming up with novel utensils that can stimulate the tongue’s taste buds without any additives, Scientific American reported.

Recently, a group of students unveiled their “Sugarware” spoon concept to help people with diabetes, which is made up of bumps on its underside that create a greater surface area to press up against the tongue.

The bumps can be covered with a permanent layer of molecules known as ligands, which bind to taste-cell surface receptor proteins that normally react to sugar molecules or artificial sweeteners.

This binding then triggers nerve signals and causes the brain to think it’s tasting something sweet.

The student researchers said they still need to come up with a Sugarware prototype, but added their project was inspired by past studies on taste-boosting utensils.

In one such study, Japanese researchers developed chopsticks that can emit a weak electrical current that shifts sodium ions in a mouthful of food to excite the tongue’s salt receptors.

While flavor-enhancing utensils seem like a healthy alternative, analysts and food executives explained that the products’ success would require major behavioral changes among consumers.

Still, previous research suggested that the weight, color, and shape of dining utensils can alter the perceived flavor of food.

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