Our tastebuds are unique

2013-11-07 00:00

THERE never has been, and never will be, another you. It is remarkable that no two individuals are identical — not even identical twins are absolute replicas of each other. This uniqueness is also seen in the taste receptor cells within our tastebuds. It is strange but true that when your family sits down to eat a meal, each member of the family is having a slightly different taste experience. No wonder pleasing everyone’s palate is an impossible task.

Bitter taste: Children often reject foods or drinks with a strong bitter taste. Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, and grapefruit all rank high on the bitter scale. Other foods that also have strong bitter components are sharp cheeses, soya sauce, green tea, coffee and beer. Bitter taste perception is a genetically variable trait and about 75% of the human population is able to perceive bitterness. They are classified as “tasters”. However about 25% of the population are called “non-tasters”, as they are not sensitive to the bitter compounds in commonly bitter foods. Among the tasters, some individuals are classified as “super-tasters” and are extremely sensitive to bitter compounds. They therefore tend to avoid many of these foods. Women who are non-tasters have been shown to have higher body mass indices (BMI) and non-taster children have a higher incidence of dental cavities. This could be due to the increased intake of fatty and sugary foods while avoiding bitter foods.

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