Don’t Like Vegetables? It May Be Genetic

The Dislike for Vegetables

If an individual does not like the taste of vegetables, it may be due to their genes. Genes can make the taste of vegetables seem bitter for certain individuals. The taste gene is real and can impact the way different people taste certain flavors. As people get older, there is a decrease in their taste bud sensitivity. This means just because an individual did not like specific vegetables when they were younger, they may change their minds as they continue to age.

The Reasons Certain Individuals Experience Difficulties Eating Vegetables

Research on this subject has been conducted at the University of Kentucky. The belief is certain individuals have a gene causing the compounds found in specific vegetables to taste especially bitter. This may be the reason important nutrients in vegetables that are good for the heart are avoided by some. This includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Jennifer L. Smith is a postdoctoral fellow and a licensed registered nurse at the School of Medicine at the University of Kentucky.

She believes the same individuals may have a sensitivity to beer, coffee and dark chocolate as well. Jennifer L. Smith is also one of the authors for the preliminary study that was conducted. The presentation of this study will be given on November sixteenth through the eighteenth in Philadelphia at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association. The basis is work previously established showing this is often associated with the vegetables consumed by students in college.

The Importance of the Taste Gene

Every person has two different copies of the TAS2R38 taste gene when they are born. Individuals who have inherited two copies of the AVI variant do not have the sensitivity to the bitterness of the chemicals found in certain vegetables. Individuals who have inherited a copy of both the PAV and AVI variants find these types of foods incredibly bitter due to the associated sensitivity. The researchers conducted the study to investigate the possibility that individuals with a minimum of two risk factors for cardiovascular disease may have this particular association.

During the next three years, the researchers conducted another analysis of the data. This was accomplished through the use of a sample of another study conducted in the past. This study involved gene interactions linked to individuals with a risk for cardiovascular diseases. Food frequency questionnaires were analyzed from 175 individuals. The age of the average respondent was 52. In excess of seventy percent of all respondents were female.

The results showed individuals with the PAV gene variation were over 2.5 percent more likely to fall into the lower half of the vegetables being eaten. This study has the potential to change the way physicians approach individuals receiving recommendations for changing their diet to improve the health of their cardiovascular systems. According to Jennifer Smith, this association may impact the ability of these individuals to change their diets by eating foods healthier for the heart. She believes additional research is necessary to determine how to encourage these individuals to consume important vegetables.

She is hoping avenues can be explored to provide options for individuals with this gene to make certain foods more palatable. She is also hoping genetic information can be used in the future to determine which types of vegetables the individual may be able to accept in addition to which spices hold the greatest appeal for supertasters. These are individuals with an increased sensitivity to taste. This will make it easier for these individuals to consume more vegetables.

The Gut Should Not Always Be Followed

Tonia Reinhard serves Detroit’s Wayne State University as a senior lecturer and the clinical nutrition director at the school of medicine located at the university. She is intrigued by research conducted at the University of Kentucky regarding the identification of genetic regions relating to taste. This can influence the food choices made by the individual. This has the potential to influence the way specific chronic diseases are developed. Both vegetables and fruits contain many essential nutrients and phytonutrients.

This can decrease oxidative damage and inflammation. These are two of the most damaging processes associated with numerous chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The development of these diseases can potentially be influenced by consuming certain foods. Tonia Reinhard is the former president of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition at Michigan Academy and a fellow of dietetics and nutrition. She refers to taste perceptions as a complicated process impacted by many different variables.

She believes an individual should attempt to understand their individual preferences. This will enable them to override some of them by using their specific cognitive functions. Annie Mahon is a nutritionist and registered dietician. She visits the department of kinesiology in Indianapolis at Indiana University as a lecturer. Her active area of research is studying genes capable of influencing taste perceptions. She has discussed her concerns regarding the implications of avoiding the consumption of vegetables that are good for the heart such as cauliflower and broccoli.

She has stated these types of vegetables are rich in vitamins K and C, folate and fiber. She has also said these are important nutrients for the maintenance of a healthy immune and digestive system and optimal heart health. She believes the best option for people with this genotype may involve cooking the vegetables. This may make the taste more acceptable by decreasing bitterness. There are also other options with the same nutrients that are easy to find.

She believes remembering the sensitivity of taste buds possibly decreasing as the individual ages is important. Even if the individual did not enjoy the taste of a vegetable or fruit when they were younger does not mean their tastes may not change as time passes.