Taste perception, associated hormonal modulation, and nutrient intake

Nutr Rev. 2015 Feb;73(2):83-91. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuu009.


It is well known that taste perception influences food intake. After ingestion, gustatory receptors relay sensory signals to the brain, which segregates, evaluates, and distinguishes the stimuli, leading to the experience known as "flavor." It is well accepted that five taste qualities – sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami – can be perceived by animals. In this review, the anatomy and physiology of human taste buds, the hormonal modulation of taste function, the importance of genetic chemosensory variation, and the influence of gustatory functioning on macronutrient selection and eating behavior are discussed. Individual genotypic variation results in specific phenotypes of food preference and nutrient intake. Understanding the role of taste in food selection and ingestive behavior is important for expanding our understanding of the factors involved in body weight maintenance and the risk of chronic diseases including obesity, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and hypertension.

Keywords: chemosensation; gustatory system; taste perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Taste / genetics
  • Taste Buds / physiology
  • Taste Perception / physiology*