Life as a Supertaster
No, I’m not making this up; it has been scientifically studied and proven that certain people experience the taste of food more intensely than others. These people are known as “supertasters,” and the condition can have important implications for their heath.
Are you a supertaster? Find out if you’re a supertaster and what that means for eating well and staying fit.
Background on Supertasters
- Understand the condition. Supertasters have a special gene that’s linked to having more papillae on their tongues. Everyone has these little bumps, but when they’re wall-to-wall you’re likely to notice flavors that others miss and be especially sensitive to bitter substances.
- Understand the prevalence. About 25% of people worldwide qualify as super tasters. These numbers are even higher for women and people of African or Asian descent.
- Take a simple test. If you can instantly spot the difference between skim and low fat milk, you may be one of these people. You can also buy tests online to take at home. They’ll check your reaction to a bitter chemical or dye your taste buds temporarily so you can count them.
- Get your kids off to a good start. Some picky eaters may just be supertasters. It’s especially important to introduce these children to a diverse diet and good eating habits early on. Kids who are super tasters still need to get all the required nutrients.
Advantages of Being a Supertaster
- Limiting your sugar intake. Supertasters tend to eat fewer sweets. That helps protect you from all the side effects of sugar including empty calories and tooth decay.
- Eating less fat. You may also find fat unpleasantly slimy. It’s still important to get your share of healthy fats like olive oil.
- Cutting down on soda. Carbonation is another substance you may find easy to pass up. Water is better for you anyway.
- Living alcohol and tobacco free. The strong tastes of alcohol and tobacco fail to appeal to many supertasters. You get to avoid all the potential pitfalls effortlessly.
- Maintaining your ideal weight. There is a physical reason why supertasters tend to be leaner than the rest of the population. Be sure to get enough calories for your daily needs.
- Catching fewer infections. Some scientists believe these extra taste buds also improve your respiratory health. Studies show that you are less vulnerable to sinus infections.
Tips to Overcome Super Taster Disadvantages
- Go easy on the salt. On the other hand, you may be in the habit of heavily salting your food because sodium reduces bitterness. Try to stay under the recommended guidelines of 2,300 mg a day or 1,500 if you have certain health conditions like diabetes.
- Eat more greens. The second big issue supertasters face is some difficulty with eating enough vegetables. Devoting half your plate to vegetables and fruit helps protect you from colon cancer and other conditions.
- Prepare foods differently. The right seasonings and cooking methods will help you eat better. Sprinkle pepper or garlic on your food instead of salt. Roasting vegetables will make them less bitter.
- Select substitute foods. If the growing popularity of kale eludes you, there are other options you’ll find easier to swallow. Sweet potatoes deserve their reputation as a super food. Brussels sprouts may be bitter, but spinach is much milder. You may even start to enjoy stronger greens if you dip them in a little applesauce or hummus.
Once you know you’re a supertaster, you can adjust your diet to enjoy your meals more and strengthen your health. Less salt and more green vegetables are usually all you need to stay lean and lower your risk for certain cancers and heart disease.