Has anyone asked you to try a favorite food of theirs only to find it was too sweet, too bitter, or too fatty to your palate? If you’re nodding in agreement now, and this happens often – particularly with food that tastes bitter (like some veggies!), you may be what the scientific world identifies as a “super-taster.” This superpower does have some benefits to it, and yes, a few drawbacks, but with our tips and a little knowledge on your side, you can fly through the buffet line with a plate full of color, and all the nutrition that comes with it – while enjoying it at the same time.
What is a super-taster?
A super-taster is essentially a person who has a heightened sense of taste. Pretty elementary, right? Scientists aren’t entirely sure as to why some people possess this trait, but there does seem to be a genetic component, as well as a physical one that essentially centers on having more taste buds than others. So far this all sounds pretty good – enhanced genes and more taste buds – what could be wrong with that? Well, believe it or not, there can be drawbacks.
What’s the drawback?
Healthy eating. Since bitter compounds are largely unpalatable to super-tasters, people with this trait tend to avoid the kitchen’s most common source of bitter foods – vegetables. Or, they’ll oversalt – both have real consequences on our health.
Are there benefits?
Since super-tasters possess a heightened sense of taste across the board (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami), and they tend to avoid foods that tip those sensations too far, they also tend to be slimmer than “medium tasters” or “non-tasters” because they avoid overly fatty and sweet foods.
So, what can you do with this information?
First, if you have an aversion to vegetables that surpasses what you believe is the norm, see if preparing vegetables with a little bit of fat makes a difference. A dollop of butter or olive oil on vegetables can often bridge the gap in taste between bitter and palatable for super-tasters, and traditionally many overly bitter foods like collards are prepared with fat for this very reason.
You could also get tested, or try this simple test at home. While not conclusive, positive results may suggest you should be properly tested, so you can know definitively whether you are a super-taster and how to ensure you get the right balance of nutrients in your diet.