London: Your spoon could soon make vegetables taste like chocolates, thanks to scientists who have developed a device which makes low-sugar food taste sweeter.
The device, dubbed Taste Buddy, emits a low-level electrical current to stimulate taste buds so that the mouth perceives sweet or salty flavours, even when they are not really present.
It could be engineered to fit everyday utensils such as cutlery, cups and cans. The team, led by Adrian Cheok at the University of London, has begun working on a prototype spoon.
According to Cheok, the device could be used to allow people to taste something they enjoy while eating a healthy dish, for example making tofu taste like steak or vegetables like chocolate.
“The Taste Buddy could eventually help save lives, by allowing people to switch to healthier food choices,” said Cheok.
The invention exploits the chemical reactions happening in the mouth when we eat. Sour and salty tastes are recognised when taste receptors on the tongue detect the reaction between saliva and the acidity of hydrogen or sodium.
Using electrical stimulation, the team has found a frequency which artificially simulates the reaction, the ‘Telegraph’ reported. For sweet tastes, there is a channel called TRPM5 which is temperature sensitive, so people taste more sweetness when the food is hot than cold.
To mimic sweeter tastes the device changes the temperature of the tongue rapidly from 25 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius, researchers said.