The Flavor of Breast Milk Is…

What flavor would you call breast milk?

You’ve tried your breast milk, right?

I mean, I never glugged down a bottle or anything but I certainly had a swallow here and there, mostly to make sure the temperature was just right and, you know, I can’t really tell you exactly what it tasted like. I don’t remember.

Apparently, a lot of folks find mom’s milk pretty tasty. So delicious, in fact, that they were lining up for breast milk ice cream last year in London. While I don’t exactly recall relishing the flavor I think it was a lot sweeter than cow’s milk.

We know there are four basic flavors. They include sweet, sour, bitter and salty. But, according to bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, the flavor of breast milk is none of the above.  He describes the flavor of breast milk as…


According to, in his book Blink Gladwell casually describes the flavor of breast milk as umami.  So, what exactly is umami?  Motherwear describes it thusly:

It means “meaty” or “savory,” and is used quite a bit in Asian cooking.  Foods in this category include parmesean cheese, fish, cured meats, ripe tomatoes, and fermented products like miso and soy sauce.  It serves the function of “rounding out” other tastes.  Kind of like you wouldn’t sit down and eat a chunk of parmesean cheese, but a little of it makes lots of dishes taste great.

Glutamates and neucleotides are apparently what give umami foods their flavor and breast milk contains as much of those substances as soup broths. That’s ten times more than cow’s milk contains.  You can find that info in this chart from the Umami Information Center.

So, what do you think? Did Gladwell nail it?  What flavor would you call breast milk?

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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