Amylase | Enzyme Behind Food Texture Preferences Like Ice Cream and Oysters

Love to Eat| Food scientists have a historical compendium of knowledge about why we like the taste of certain foods but understand comparatively little about the mystery of food texture.

An enzyme in saliva called amylase, which breaks down food starch into liquid, could play a key role in why some people love oysters and others detest oysters anywhere near their mouths. Humans have significantly different amount of amylase, creating major differences in how we metabolize the same foods.

“We all have had the experience of liking a food that someone else complains is too tacky, or slippery, or gritty, or pulpy,” says Paul Breslin, a researcher at the Monell center and a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “This is why a given line of product often comes in different textural forms,” such as orange juice with and without pulp, he says. via Wall Street Journal

This new research goes beyond why one person likes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and another prefers the texture of Häagen-Dazs®.

Beyond food preferences, it’s believed that amylase’s role in starch breakdown has implications in blood-sugar levels, body insulin, and the onset of diabetes.