Many a family celebration has been marred by the arguments about eating your greens, but now scientists could have made a discovery that could settle the discussion once and for all, as researchers have discovered the reason could be genetic. For generations, well-meaning parents have been trying to get their children to eat their greens. But some children, and adults too for that matter, seem to have a real aversion to vegetables – particularly sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Researchers have discovered that the reason for this could be genetic
People who have a particular gene find certain vegetables unbearably bitter. It also affects the way that dark chocolate and coffee tastes to them, as well as beer. The gene in question is called TAS2R38 (which stands for taste receptor 2 member 38). It is the most-studied bitter taste receptor gene and comes in two variants – AVI and PAV.
People who have only one variant or the other tend to be at either end of the spectrum – some don’t really taste bitterness unless it is very strong while others are extremely sensitive to bitter flavours. However, even within this group, there are some who experience a moderate response to bitterness.
What could be the reasons for this be?
Scientists conducting the study asked participants with the same bitter taste receptor genes to rate the bitterness level of different drinks, including broccoli juice and carrot juice. They then took samples of tissue from the participants’ taste buds and measured the amounts of messenger RNA, which is the molecule that contains instructions for making bitter taste receptors. They discovered a direct relationship between the amount of messenger RNA made by a person’s cells and their bitterness rating of certain vegetables. Those with the highest levels of RNA rated the juices as most bitter.
Scientists concluded that this might explain why some people with “moderate taster” genes have a high level of sensitivity to bitterness.
They conclude that people who find vegetables less bitter may be more likely to eat them than those with high levels of bitter receptor genes, which could influence their overall health and wellbeing. However, there is also a suggestion that eating bitter vegetables may help to change a person’s sensitivity to bitterness over time, so a mother’s exhortations to her children to “just try a little bit” might not be entirely misplaced!
While the results of this study provide a fun insight into people’s personal likes and dislikes when it comes to particular foods, genetic testing is increasingly being used to determine things like susceptibility to certain inherited conditions, as well as which types of drugs are most likely to be effective for individuals, and optimum levels of medication to provide both safe and effective treatment.
How a Health & Wellbeing Test can help
Myogenes is one of the leading genetic testing companies in the UK.
Alongside our pharmacogenetic tests, we offer a Health and Wellbeing test, which tests your DNA to determine things like the most important micro and macro-nutrients you need, as well as how you metabolise lactose, alcohol and coffee.
It can also determine your responses to physical activity and provide greater understanding of the sports that are most likely to benefit you.