You’re sipping down on a delicious blueberry smoothie. It’s refreshing and cooling. But as the ice starts to mix in with the concoction and melt, your fresh smoothie starts getting sweeter and sweeter. Is your brain playing tricks on you? Well sort of.

We humans have noted 5 main types of flavors: Sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (the Japanese term for a savory, meaty flavor). Whether you eat with your eyes, or your nose impacts your impression, your tongue has the final say. 

This is because our taste buds have receptors in them that are able to perceive what food tastes like. How this works is that when the flavor hits your tongue, the transient receptor potential channel 5 opens up the taste buds. This is more commonly known as TRPM5. We prefer this as the former is quite the tongue twister! 

Then an electric signal is carried from your taste buds to your brain. Your brain then converts this into your reaction to the flavor. 

Studies have shown that temperature actually impacts the TRPM5 channel. At lower temperatures, TRPM5 is less sensitive, whereas at higher temperatures, it is much more sensitive. This means that the TSPM5’s sensitivity determines how much flavor is signaled to the brain.

That’s why the blueberry smoothie tastes fresher when it has all the ice. And once that ice melted, it tasted sweeter.

Another example would be that spicy food tastes spicier when it’s hotter. If you and spicy food don’t get along, maybe you just haven’t tried it at the right temperature.

This concept opens up a world of possibilities for food experimentation. Maybe have your veggies cold or heat up that chocolate donut in the microwave for some intense flavor! The options are endless.

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