Carbohydrate taste preferences in rats: glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose and polycose compared

Physiol Behav. 1987;40(5):563-8. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(87)90097-7.


The taste preferences of adult female rats for solutions of five different carbohydrates were evaluated using brief (3-min) two-bottle preference tests. At the lowest concentration tested (0.03 molar) the order of preference was Polycose greater than maltose greater than sucrose greater than glucose = fructose. Whereas at the highest concentrations tested (0.5 or 1.0 molar) the preference order was sucrose greater than maltose greater than or equal to Polycose greater than glucose greater than fructose. Thus, at low concentrations starch-derived polysaccharides (Polycose) are more palatable to rats than are sugars. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that rats have separate taste receptors for sugars and for starch-derived polysaccharides. The fact that maltose is the most preferred sugar at low concentrations is attributed to its stimulation of "polysaccharide" taste receptors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Fructose / administration & dosage
  • Glucose / administration & dosage
  • Maltose / administration & dosage
  • Polysaccharides / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Polysaccharides
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose
  • Maltose
  • Glucose