Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 116-122

First online:

Impact of Calcium on Salivary α-Amylase Activity, Starch Paste Apparent Viscosity, and Thickness Perception

  • Cecile MorrisAffiliated withDivision of Food Sciences, University of Nottingham Email author 
  • , Susanne L. FichtelAffiliated withDivision of Food Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • , Andrew J. TaylorAffiliated withDivision of Food Sciences, University of Nottingham

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Thickness perception of starch-thickened products during eating has been linked to starch viscosity and salivary amylase activity. Calcium is an essential cofactor for α-amylase and there is anecdotal evidence that adding extra calcium affects amylase activity in processes like mashing of beer. The aims of this paper were to (1) investigate the role of salivary calcium on α-amylase activity and (2) to measure the effect of calcium concentration on apparent viscosity and thickness perception when interacting with salivary α-amylase in starch-based samples. α-Amylase activity in saliva samples from 28 people was assessed using a typical starch pasting cycle (up to 95 °C). The activity of the enzyme (as measured by the change in starch apparent viscosity) was maintained by the presence of calcium, probably by protecting the enzyme from heat denaturation. Enhancement of α-amylase activity by calcium at 37 °C was also observed although to a smaller extent. Sensory analysis showed a general trend of decreased thickness perception in the presence of calcium, but the result was only significant for one pair of samples, suggesting a limited impact of calcium enhanced enzyme activity on perceived thickness.


Starch α-Amylase Viscosity Calcium Thickness perception