Wondering Why?

Why is smell so important to taste?

People’s sense of smell is considered very important, if not the most important, when it comes to tasting food.  In fact, research has shown that as much as 80 percent of what people perceive as taste is actually coming from the people’s sense of smell.  Many experts in this field also point out that our noses can distinguish many more odors as compared to the tongue that can only detect basic tastes like sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and bitterness.  As for the same experts, any other taste in-between these basic flavors is actually detected by people’s sense of smell rather than their taste buds.

If the smell or odor of food is removed, it is said that people will have a hard time distinguishing between flavors.  One can easily apply this scenario when a person is experiencing a cold, for example.  During this time, this particular person will have clogged nostrils due to some secretions and, therefore, will have a limited sense of smell.  When meal time comes, it is typical for a person suffering from a cold to not enjoy his/her food because he/she hardly has a good sense of taste for it.  With this example, it is pretty obvious that the smell of food is important in how taste is perceived.  When the food’s odor or aroma is literally removed, the food’s taste will also be hard to detect or perceive.

In a general sense, the odor present in food items is actually the major factor in how people perceive their taste.  This also explains the fact that people exclaim that apples and candies, for example, have a sweet smell.  In this particular example, the term “sweet” should be associated with the taste buds as detected by people’s tongues.  Instead, this supposedly “sweet taste” is expressed as something of an odor as perceived by people’s sense of smell.

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