Genes as the reason for low vegetable consumption?

Genes as the reason for low vegetable consumption?

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Do genes determine whether we find the taste of vegetables bitter?

A gene makes certain compounds taste very bitter for some people, which means that affected people eat fewer vegetables.

The current study by the University of Kentucky School of Medicine found that a special gene makes certain substances taste bitter, which means that those affected apparently also eat less healthy vegetables. The results of the study were presented at this year's American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia.

Taste determines the choice of our food

"Your genetics influence the way you taste, and taste is an important factor when choosing food," says study author Dr. Jennifer L. Smith of the University of Kentucky School of Medicine in a press release from the American Heart Association. In order to create more effective dietary guidelines, one should take into account the taste of the recommended foods.

Why are some people so sensitive to bitterness?

Every person gets two copies of the taste gene TAS2R38 inherited. If people carry two copies of the AVI variant, they are not sensitive to the bitter taste of certain substances. However, if people carry a copy of AVI and another copy called PAV, they feel the same foods are exceptionally bitter.

Perceived bitterness for less vegetable consumption?

For people with a copy of AVI and a copy of PAV, vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are likely to taste uncomfortably bitter. It is also possible that the affected persons find dark chocolate, coffee and beer very bitter.

Study evaluated data from 175 people

For their study, the researchers analyzed questionnaires on the food intake of 175 people. These people had an average age of 52 years and more than 70 percent of the participants were female. It turned out that people with the PAV form of the gene were more than two and a half times more likely to be among those who consumed the least amount of vegetables.

What influence did spices have on the perceived bitterness?

It was also found that salt, fat or sugar did not affect bitterness for these people. The researchers had actually suspected that more sugar and salt as a flavor enhancer could compensate for the bitter taste of food. However, this was not the case.

More research is needed

In the future, genetic information could be used to find out which vegetables people can consume without feeling uncomfortably bitter. In addition, further research could find out which types of vegetables taste particularly good to people with a particular sensitivity to bitterness. This would make it easier for affected people to eat more vegetables. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Sensitivity to bitter tastes may be why some people eat fewer vegetables, American Heart Association (query: 11.11.2019), American Heart Association

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