Thank you, Gizmodo, for breaking down the reasons why the tuna salad sandwich we just ate for lunch is still lingering on our taste buds (and on our breath).

As it turns out, aftertaste is caused by the remaining chemicals from food or drink that stick around on the gustatory cells on the tongue, back of the throat, epiglottis, and the upper esophagus. Gustatory cells are the part of the taste bud that responds to several primary tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami (savory) and fat.

Essentially, aftertaste is, “the sensation left over after the other factors of overall taste, like smell and texture, are no longer affecting the brain,” according to Gizmodo.

Scientists are beginning to understand that certain chemicals within food and drink cause a certain aftertaste flavor. For example, many people have noticed that eating seafood while sipping on wine leaves them with a very fishy aftertaste in their mouths. This is due to the levels of iron in the wine, specifically the ferrous ion, which causes a more pronounced aftertaste.

Is the fear of aftertaste stopping you from eating certain foods? You’ll be happy to know that scientists are working on ways to block flavors and have already found a chemical that can block one’s ability to sense bitter aftertastes. A molecule, known as GIV 3737 will target and block the taste receptors responsible for bitterness.

[via Gizmodo, Today I Found Out]