Your Genetics Might Affect Your Taste For Vegetables

Most people probably remember their parents telling them, as children, how it important it is to eat your vegetables.  Of course, most kids would prefer to eat candy instead of leafy or cruciferous greens.  But a new study advises that some people may not like vegetables because they are genetically predisposed to feel this way.  

Effectively, study author Jennifer L. Smith, PhD, RN explains, “Your genetics affect the way you taste, and taste is an important factor in food choice.”

Specifically, the experts have identified that people who inherit two copies of a TAS2R38 gene variant are not as sensitive to what some might consider a bitter taste associated with certain chemicals.   Apparently, those who inherit two copies of the gene (known as AVI) are not sensitive to tastes from certain chemicals but those who inherit the AVI and PAV experience a bitter taste from these natural chemicals.  

But those who have two copies of the PAV variant will find some foods to be extremely bitter. 

Smith goes on to talk about advising patients on dietary needs.  She attests, “You have to consider how things taste if you really want your patient to follow nutrition guidelines.”

The University of Kentucky School of Medicine postdoctoral fellow in cardiovascular science adds:  “We’re talking a ruin-your-day level of bitter when they tasted the test compound. These people are likely to find broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage unpleasantly bitter; and they may also react negatively to dark chocolate, coffee, and sometimes beer.”  

Smith also notes that understanding this trait could help doctors and nutritionists have more awareness of how their patients are eating.  She comments, “We though they might take in more sugar and salt as flavor enhancers to offset the bitter taste of other foods, but that wasn’t the case.”

From here, then, Smith said researchers are hoping to use genetic information like this to further pinpoint which vegetables might be more tolerable than others in terms of these variants.  This might also lend to learning more about which spices might be more pleasant to those with a “supertasting” variant, especially since a preference for these flavors could pair with bitter vegetables to make them more palatable.