“We’re talking a ruin-your-day level of bitter when they tasted the test compound," said study author Jennifer Smith. "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."
The researchers explain that everyone inherits genes that affect their tastebuds in different ways. People with two copies of the variant called AVI aren't sensitive to bitter tastes from certain chemicals, people with one copy of AVI and one called PAV can perceive the bitter taste and those with two copies of PAV can't handle the bitter taste.
Everyone inherits two copies of a taste gene called TAS2R38. People who inherit two copies of the variant called AVI aren’t sensitive to bitter tastes from certain chemicals. Those with one copy of AVI and another called PAV perceive bitter tastes of these chemicals, however, individuals with two copies of PAV, often called “super-tasters,” find the same foods exceptionally bitter.
The study analysed food-frequency questionnaires from 175 people and found that people with the PAV form of the gene were more than two and a half times as likely to rank in the bottom half of participants on the number of vegetables eaten. This was regardless of the however much salt, fat or sugar they ate.
“We thought they might take in more sugar and salt as flavour enhancers to offset the bitter taste of other foods, but that wasn’t the case. Down the road we hope we can use genetic information to figure out which vegetables people may be better able to accept and to find out which spices appeal to super tasters so we can make it easier for them to eat more vegetables,” Smith said.