Why does food’s taste fade away the more we chew it?



Why does food’s taste fade away the more we chew it?

In: Biology

This phenomenon varies between different food types. Put simply, as you chew, your saliva dissolves the food in your mouth to help you swallow it. The first thing your saliva touches is the outer layer of your food. In the case of prepared meals like steak and pasta, the main flavor is on the outermost layer of your food, as you chew and swallow the saliva in your mouth it takes the flavors (herbs, spices, salt, seared crust etc.) down with it and you taste more of the remaining meat or wheat in these examples, which don’t taste as flavorful without that outer seasoning. This is also why if you don’t like the flavor of broccoli or peas, they taste worse the more you chew them, since the seasoning washes down with your saliva and the vegetable taste starts coming out.

You’ll notice that this doesn’t happen with fruits, ice cream, or chocolate etc. since in those cases all layers of what you’re eating have the same flavor.

As you eat more of the same dish, whether in one sitting or regularly, your brain gets used to the flavour and so it doesn’t notice the taste as much. Remember that your sense of taste is very closely connected with your sense of smell, and the phenomenon above occurs in a similar vein to getting used to a smell (a scented candle or deodorant for example) and not noticing it as much or at all as time passes.

I’ll add the some food’s tastes will grow as we chew them. Our saliva contains a chemical called “amylase” which digests carbohydrates into simple sugars. If you eat a bland, starchy food, like crackers, unsweetened oatmeal, or raw potato, and chew it for ~1 min it will start to taste richer and sweeter. This isn’t a brainfluke, this is your saliva breaking down the complex starches into simpler, sweeter sugars.