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Bitter tasting vegetables may be caused by genes

Bitter tasting vegetables may be caused by genes

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Food and its consumption by humans can be a funny business at times, reminding one of the saying “different strokes for different folks”. In other words what may be a heavenly taste for one person can be a most distasteful experience for another. Even foods universally regarded as healthy have their detractors, some persons being averse to perfectly healthy foods for inexplicable reasons.

Now, after years of study, scientists think that they have the reason for such inexplicable aversions, at least in the case of some persons seemingly unable to eat vegetables, some kinds in particular. They have concluded that these vegetables may taste bitter to those persons because of certain genetic inheritances. The scientists have branded such persons as “super-tasters” because they taste food differently from most others and are extremely sensitive to bitterness in food. This could explain why some of these persons eat little or no vegetables at all.

According to the scientific conclusions, persons so affected are more than two and a half times more likely to eat fewer vegetables and find dark vegetables in particular, broccoli and green cabbages difficult to consume. Yet such vegetables are considered very healthy because they are low in calories and have a high fibre content.

So what do genes have to do with this phenomenon?

“Your genetics affect the way you taste, and taste is an important factor in food choice,” explained Jennifer Smith, study author and post doctorate in cardiovascular (heart) science at the University Of Kentucky School Of Medicine in the USA.

There are two gene variants called AVI and PAV. Everyone receives two of these genes, but half of us get one of each and the other half get two copies of one or the other. Persons who have both AVI and PAV are sensitive to bitter tastes, and are affected not only by the taste of vegetables but also by dark chocolate, coffee and beer.

Various solutions have been proposed including different varieties of vegetables which are less bitter and cooking and preparation techniques such as adding a little fat or sweetness, strong flavours like garlic or oven roasting to bring out natural sweetness, recommends the scientist.

(Story based on extracts from Fresh Fruit Portal, Nov. 12, 2019)

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