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WTAP @ 5: To Your Health Report: Supertasters

By: Holly Firfer Email
By: Holly Firfer Email

Ever wonder why some people can eat certain foods and others can't? It might be our taste buds. Scientists have found that some people taste different compounds more than others.
They call them supertasters.

And as Holly Firfer reports in today's Health Minute, understanding supertasters, could help scientists better understand the role of food in our daily health.

Ah food: the aroma ... the taste. But not everyone agrees on what's good. Each person's taste buds are different, because some are more sensitive than others.

"So you tend to get less sensitive as you get older, and some people are born more genetically sensitive to certain tastes."

Those people are known as supertasters, but supertasters don't have super powers that allow them to taste all flavors in each and every bite.

"Supertasters has more to do with how they perceive certain kinds of bitter."

What supertasters are tasting that others don't is a chemical substance that reacts with food, called PTC. In supertasters, certain foods, like dark leafy greens, coffee and some teas can set off the bitterness.

The way to test for a supertaster is to have a participant sip a concoction that sets off PTC. Dr. Reed is a non-taster, Anna Lysenko, who works with her, is a supertaster, notice their reactions when they both taste the compound.

"It leaves a very bitter taste on the back of your tongue."

But Anna says she loves food and is only picky when it come to veggies.

"Brussels sprouts are a big one."

Doctors say if they can better understand taste mechanisms, especially in supertasters, they could pin down why eat what we do - and how that could lead some people to become obese.

For Today's Health Minute, I'm Holly Firfer.


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