Your Genes Might Be The Reason You Hate Some Vegetables and Fruits
Next time anyone asks you about your loathing for vegetables and fruits, tell them it's genetic. And you're not lying! There's a whole study confirming it.
If you dislike vegetables and fruits, this is for you.
US scientists have released interesting new studies. These studies claim that your aversion to vegetables may actually be a genetic disorder. So your dislike of broccoli and all things green is in you! What a relief! Now your friends can stop berating you for never having the leafy green salad at lunch. Vegetables and fruits can officially take a hike.
Scientists are calling folks with vegetable prejudice ‘super-tasters’. But don't don a cape just yet. Super-tasters do not experience more enjoyable sensations when eating vegetables. Instead, they find themselves hating every minute of it because of a heightened intolerance of bitterness.
Vegetables and fruits: The Super Tasters Theory
US scientists suggested this could explain why some people find it difficult to include enough vegetables in their diet, as the excess gene provides a ‘ruin-your-day’ level of bitterness to foods such as broccoli and sprouts.
The gene may also make beer, coffee and dark chocolate taste unpleasant. Oh no! Not chocolate!
Valerie Duffy, a professor at the University of Connecticut, claims that the taste of green vegetables can be horrendous to super-tasters. But this is if you overcook them, as the heat creates a more sulphuric flavour.
‘The person who has that genetic propensity gets more of the sulphur flavour of, say, Brussels sprouts, especially if they’ve been overcooked,’ she told CNN.
‘So that [bitter] vegetable is disliked, and because people generalise, soon all vegetables are disliked.
‘If you ask people, “Do you like vegetables?” They don’t usually say, “Oh yeah, I don’t like this, but I like these others.”
‘People tend to either like vegetables or not.’
According to these studies, super-tasters are 2.6 times more likely to eschew vegetables than people without this heightened sense of taste. Receptors on our taste buds automatically respond to the five basic flavours of salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami.
In case you’re wondering what umami is, it’s basically a savoury flavour released by an amino acid called glutamate, which exists in pungent food like vintage cheese and mushrooms, the latter of which is safely considered globally to be repulsive with or without this super-tasting gene.
The Genes Responsible For Your Hating Vegetables and Fruits
So which gene is actually responsible? Everyone inherits two copies of a taste gene called TAS2R38. It allows us to taste bitterness by encoding for a protein in the taste receptors on the tongue.
However, there are different variants of the gene. People who inherit two copies of a variant called PAV find certain foods exceptionally bitter.
In contrast, people who inherit two copies of a variant called AVI are not sensitive to bitter tastes in food at all, whereas those with one copy of AVI and one of PAV perceive bitter tastes slightly.
The scientists studied 175 people and found those with two copies of the PAV variation of the gene only ate small amounts of leafy green vegetables.
But it isn’t just the taste that puts folk off vegetables. Professor Duffy’s studies have also discovered that super-tasters are generally opposed to the touch and texture of the food. If you dislike mushrooms, you probably would say they smell and feel like you’re eating freshly boiled slugs.
Professor Duffy explains the research
When we come to the table, we don’t perceive the food flavor or the taste of food equally. Some people live in a pastel food world versus others who might live in a more vibrant, neon food world. It could explain some of the differences in our food preference.’
If you’re someone who likes to see percentages when faced with a new study, Professor Duffy says that 50% of humans inherit two variations of taste-bud receptors and are thus not especially sensitive to bitter food.
Meanwhile 25% of humans are ‘non-tasters’ because they have two copies of the one receptor, called AVI. These folks aren’t in any way sensitive to bitterness, which means all food tastes sweet.
The remaining 25% have two copies of the other variant, known as PAV, which creates a horrendous sensitivity to bitter food like vegetables. Past studies suggest that plants develop this taste to prevent animals from eating them.
There's hope for your taste buds yet...
Doctors have warned this could prevent some people from eating their recommended vegetables and fruits, with the doctor adding, ‘You have to consider how things taste if you really want your patient to follow nutrition guidelines.’
This new research seems to have given all of us vegetables and fruits haters an excuse as to why we’re maybe not being as healthy as we possibly could be.
But Professor Duffy has not given up hope that super-tasters can get over their loathing of vegetables, saying: ‘Just because somebody carries the two copies of the bitter gene doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy vegetables.
‘Cooking techniques such as adding a little fat, a little bit of sweetness, strong flavors like garlic or roasting them in the oven, which brings out natural sweetness, can all enhance the overall flavor or taste of the vegetable and block the bitterness.’
There we go. If eating plain veg is so distasteful, you could always cover it with something you find tastier.