Have you ever known a woman who dislikes chocolate? “I’m not a big
sweets person,” she’ll say, or, “This is too rich for me.” After one
bite of her decadent dessert she sets her fork down. You sit across
from her, trying not to drool while her words blur together into a
distant rambling stream, wondering how in the world she canNOT eat
that chocolate! The differences between you and she are likely not
about will power but rather the power of your taste buds.
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Are You A Supertaster?
If you love salt, then you could be genetically programmed to crave
these salty foods. According to research from the University of
Connecticut, people with heightened taste perception are known as
supertasters. These people possess a gene that enables them to taste
the bitterness of a chemical called propylthiouracil (PROP). With
this increased taste recognition for bitterness, supertasters often
consume more salt and sugar to counterbalance the bitterness.
“Supertasters also perceive more saltiness in table salt, more
sweetness from sugar, more burn from chili peppers, and more tingle
from carbonated drinks,” said food scientist John E. Hayes in an
online health report.
This also means that most supertasters consume large amounts of
sodium. In order to help reduce the chances of sodium overload that
could lead to heart disease, researchers recommend reduced-salt
foods, or replacing common table salt with all-natural sea salt.If
you dislike chocolate, you may be part of the nearly 25% of people
known as super tasters. (Yes, this is an actual scientific term.)
Super tasters have highly sensitive taste buds and more of them than
their chocolate-loving counterparts. At close glance, their tongues
are bumpy - chock full of acute taste buds, or papillae. This
results in low tolerance for highly sweet, fatty or bitter foods
Another near quarter of people is known as non-tasters. Non-tasters
do taste but not as deeply as super tasters. They have fewer
papillae on their tongues and can tolerate most flavors and tastes.
They are drawn to highly flavorful foods, sugary sweets and yes,
chocolate. (If you are known to put 7 packets of sweetener in your
coffee, this may be you.)
The rest of us are coined normal tasters. Normal tasters have
moderately bumpy tongues and average ability to taste and
differentiate between flavors. They are less picky about foods than
super tasters but not as extreme in taste acceptance as non-tasters.
There are pros and cons to each of these
categories. Super tasters eat fewer fatty, fried or sugary foods.
They may also have aversion to healthy foods such as certain
vegetables. (Imagine if you could taste the bitter earth in a
vegetable variety. A super taster very well might!) They are often
self-proclaimed picky eaters and are particular about where, what
and how they eat.
Non-tasters (most chocoholics) can eat just about anything. Such
flavor allowance can be a blessing or a curse. If a non-taster goes
for sugary, salty or fatty foods, most often it can be problematic.
They may struggle with cravings or portion control. If they commit
to a diet based on healthy foods, they’re able to enjoy them in
great variety, allowing for heightened nutrient intake and wellness.
Normal tasters fare pretty well in between. They tend to be moderate
eaters and obsess less over what they eat. They are more focused on
dinner conversation than the food on (or not on) their plates and
tend to be more relaxed in general.
Knowing where you fall on the taste bud spectrum can heighten
understanding of yourself and others and can inspire positive
changes in your eating life. Your love, loathing or apathy toward
chocolate may be just the tool you need to get started. (Ah, yet
another reason to cheer for chocolate…)