Researchers have always been interested in individual differences in how people perceive taste, because taste can affect appetite and food intake, in turn leading to weight loss or malnutrition. Changes in taste perception can even result in unhealthy food choices, which can increase the risk of diseases like diabetes or heart disease.
Easily identifiable factors that affect taste perception include gender, age and genetics. Factors like medications (antidepressants, antibiotics), medical treatments (chemotherapy, radiation), illness (head injuries, sinus infections) and smoking can also affect our sense of taste.
Take this test to find out whether you carry a genetic variant that gives you the ability to taste a bitter compound called phenylthiocarbamide.
Bitterness, which is often described as being pungent or disagreeable, is one of the tastes that most of us are particularly sensitive to. But, bitterness often adds to the well-rounded flavour of many things we consume like coffee, beer and even chocolate.
Studies have linked genetic variation in the TAS2R38 gene to the ability to taste a bitter compound called phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). While PTC is a synthetic compound used in research, some foods contain compounds that are similar to PTC. Individuals with the genetic variants are more sensitive to bitter taste and are more likely to taste foods with compounds similar to PTC, such as broccoli and cabbage.
Why Do We Taste Bitter Things?
Our sense of taste is often linked to emotional reactions, and this connection has to do with human evolution. Being able to taste-test the food they consumed was an essential component of survival for our ancestors.
For example, poisonous plants or rotting food often taste bitter or sour, so having a strong taste perception for bitterness would have protected them from consuming these foods.
If you have inherited the “taster” variant for bitterness, just remember that while your ability to taste bitter foods may have been an evolutionary advantage, you still need to include at least some bitter foods in your diet because fruits and vegetables have many health benefits.
How It Works
Step 1: Sign up for a free DNA Access account.
Step 2: Upload your DNA markers to DNA Access.
Step 3: Log in to your account to access your results when they are ready.