This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
A supertaster is a person who experiences the sense of taste with far greater intensity than average, with some studies showing an increased sensitivity to bitter tastes. It may be a cause of selective eating, but selective eaters are not necessarily supertasters, and vice versa.
The term originates with experimental psychologist Linda Bartoshuk who has spent much of her career studying genetic variation in taste perception. In the early 1990s, Bartoshuk and her colleagues noticed some individuals tested in the laboratory seemed to have an elevated taste response and took to calling them supertasters.[dubious ] This increased taste response is not the result of response bias or a scaling artifact, but appears to have an anatomical/biological basis.
In 1931, Arthur L. Fox, a DuPont chemist, discovered that some persons found phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) to be bitter while others found it tasteless. At the 1931 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fox collaborated with Albert F. Blakeslee, a geneticist, to have attendees taste PTC: 65% found it bitter, 28% found it tasteless, and 6% described other taste qualities. Subsequent work revealed that the ability to taste PTC was genetic.
In the 1960s, Roland Fischer was the first to link the ability to taste PTC, and the related[clarification needed] compound propylthiouracil (PROP), to food preference and body type[which?]. Today, PROP has replaced PTC in taste research because[clarification needed] of a faint sulfurous odor and safety concerns with PTC. As described above, Bartoshuk and colleagues discovered that the taster group could be further divided into medium tasters and supertasters. Most estimates suggest 25% of the population are nontasters[clarification needed], 50% are medium tasters, and 25% are supertasters.
The cause of this heightened response is unknown, although it is thought to be related to the presence of the TAS2R38 gene, the ability to taste PROP and PTC, and, at least in part, due to an increased number of fungiform papillae. Any evolutionary advantage to supertasting is unclear. In some environments, heightened taste response, particularly to bitterness, would represent an important advantage in avoiding potentially toxic plant alkaloids. In other environments, increased response to bitterness may have limited the range of palatable foods.
The bitter-taste-receptor gene TAS2R38 has been associated with the ability to taste PROP and PTC; but it cannot completely explain supertasting. Still, the T2R38 genotype has been linked to a preference for sweetness in children, avoidance of alcoholic beverages, increased prevalence of colon cancer (because of inadequate vegetable consumption) and avoidance of cigarette smoking.
|This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2016)|
Women are more likely to be supertasters, as are those from Asia, South America and Africa.
Identifying a supertasterEdit
Supertasters were initially identified on the basis of the perceived intensity of propylthiouracil (PROP) compared to a reference salt solution. However, because supertasters have a larger sense of taste than medium or nontasters, this can cause scaling artifacts. Subsequently, salt has been replaced with a non-oral auditory standard. That is, if two individuals rate the same physical stimulus at a comparable perceptual intensity, but one gives a rating twice as large for the bitterness of a PROP solution, the experimenter can be confident the difference is real and not merely the result of how the person is using the scale. Today, there is a phenylalanine test strip. The general population tastes this as bitter about 5% of the time.
Many studies do not include a cross-modal reference and simply categorize individuals on the basis of the bitterness of a concentrated PROP solution or PROP impregnated paper. It is also possible to make a reasonably accurate self-diagnosis at home by careful examination of the tongue and looking for the number of fungiform papillae. Blue food dye can make this easier. Being a supertaster or nontaster is part of normal variation in the human population, as are eye color and hair color, so no treatment is needed.
Specific food sensitivitiesEdit
||This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (October 2016)|
Although individual food preference for supertasters cannot be typified, documented examples for either lessened preference or consumption include:
- Certain alcoholic beverages (gins, tequilas, and hoppy beers)
- Brassica oleracea cultivars (become very sulfurous, especially if overcooked)
- Grapefruit juice
- Green tea
- Watercress, mustard greens, horseradish, dandelion greens, rutabaga and turnip
- Soy products
- Carbonated water
- Anise and licorice
- Lower-sodium foods
Other foods may also show altered patterns of preference and consumption, but only indirect evidence exists:
- Bartoshuk, L. M. (1991). "Sweetness: history, preference, and genetic variability". Food technology. 45 (11): 108–13. ISSN 0015-6639. INIST:5536670.
- Fox, AF (1931). "Six in ten 'tasteblind' to bitter chemical". Sci News Lett. 9: 249.
- Bartoshuk, LM (2000). "Psychophysical advances aid the study of genetic variation in taste". Appetite. 34 (1): 105. PMID 10744897. doi:10.1006/appe.1999.0287.
- Juliana Texley; Terry Kwan; John Summers (1 January 2004). Investigating Safely: A Guide for High School Teachers. NSTA Press. pp. 90–. ISBN 978-0-87355-202-8.
- Roxby, Philippa (9 December 2012). "Why taste is all in the senses". BBC News Health.
- Bartoshuk, Linda M.; Duffy, Valerie B.; Miller, Inglis J. (1994). "PTC/PROP tasting: Anatomy, psychophysics, and sex effects". Physiology & Behavior. 56 (6): 1165–71. PMID 7878086. doi:10.1016/0031-9384(94)90361-1.
- Duffy, Valerie B.; Davidson, Andrew C.; Kidd, Judith R.; Kidd, Kenneth K.; Speed, William C.; Pakstis, Andrew J.; Reed, Danielle R.; Snyder, Derek J.; Bartoshuk, Linda M. (2004). "Bitter Receptor Gene (TAS2R38), 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) Bitterness and Alcohol Intake". Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. 28 (11): 1629–37. PMC . PMID 15547448. doi:10.1097/01.ALC.0000145789.55183.D4.
- Bufe, Bernd; Breslin, Paul A.S.; Kuhn, Christina; Reed, Danielle R.; Tharp, Christopher D.; Slack, Jay P.; Kim, Un-Kyung; Drayna, Dennis; Meyerhof, Wolfgang (2005). "The Molecular Basis of Individual Differences in Phenylthiocarbamide and Propylthiouracil Bitterness Perception". Current Biology. 15 (4): 322–7. PMC . PMID 15723792. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.01.047.
- Hayes, J. E.; Bartoshuk, L. M.; Kidd, J. R.; Duffy, V. B. (2008). "Supertasting and PROP Bitterness Depends on More Than the TAS2R38 Gene". Chemical Senses. 33 (3): 255–65. PMID 18209019. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjm084.
- Mennella, J. A.; Pepino, MY; Reed, DR (2005). "Genetic and Environmental Determinants of Bitter Perception and Sweet Preferences". Pediatrics. 115 (2): e216–22. PMC . PMID 15687429. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-1582.
- Basson, Marc D.; Bartoshuk, Linda M.; Dichello, Susan Z.; Panzini, Lisa; Weiffenbach, James M.; Duffy, Valerie B. (2005). "Association Between 6-n-Propylthiouracil (PROP) Bitterness and Colonic Neoplasms". Digestive Diseases and Sciences. 50 (3): 483–9. PMID 15810630. doi:10.1007/s10620-005-2462-7.
- Cannon, Dale; Baker, Timothy; Piper, Megan; Scholand, Mary Beth; Lawrence, Daniel; Drayna, Dennis; McMahon, William; Villegas, G.Martin; Caton, Trace; Coon, Hilary; Leppert, Mark (2005). "Associations between phenylthiocarbamide gene polymorphisms and cigarette smoking". Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 7 (6): 853–8. PMID 16298720. doi:10.1080/14622200500330209.
- Science of supertasters BBC
- Prescott, J.; Ripandelli, N.; Wakeling, I. (2001). "Binary Taste Mixture Interactions in PROP Non-tasters, Medium-tasters and Super-tasters". Chemical Senses. 26 (8): 993–1003. PMID 11595676. doi:10.1093/chemse/26.8.993.
- Lanier, S; Hayes, J; Duffy, V (2005). "Sweet and bitter tastes of alcoholic beverages mediate alcohol intake in of-age undergraduates". Physiology & Behavior. 83 (5): 821. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.10.004.
- Sipiora, M.L; Murtaugh, M.A; Gregoire, M.B; Duffy, V.B (2000). "Bitter taste perception and severe vomiting in pregnancy". Physiology & Behavior. 69 (3): 259–67. PMID 10869591. doi:10.1016/S0031-9384(00)00223-7.
- "Super-Tasting Science: Find Out If You're a "Supertaster"!". Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- Drewnowski, Adam; Henderson, Susan Ahlstrom; Levine, Alisa; Hann, Clayton (2007). "Taste and food preferences as predictors of dietary practices in young women". Public Health Nutrition. 2 (4). doi:10.1017/S1368980099000695.
- Drewnowski, Adam; Henderson, Susan Ahlstrom; Barratt-Fornell, Anne (2001). "Genetic taste markers and food preferences". Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals. 29 (4 Pt 2): 535–8. PMID 11259346.
- Dinehart, M.E.; Hayes, J.E.; Bartoshuk, L.M.; Lanier, S.L.; Duffy, V.B. (2006). "Bitter taste markers explain variability in vegetable sweetness, bitterness, and intake". Physiology & Behavior. 87 (2): 304–13. PMID 16368118. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.10.018.
- Sandell, Mari; Breslin, Paul (October 2006), "Variability in a taste-receptor gene determines whether we taste toxins in food", Current Biology, 16 (18): R792-4, doi:10.1016/j.cub.2006.08.049
- "Health Report – 22/12/1997: Super Tasters". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
- "Love Salt? You Might Be a “Supertaster”". Retrieved 2014-12-09.
- Reed, Danielle R.; Tanaka, Toshiko; McDaniel, Amanda H. (2006). "Diverse tastes: Genetics of sweet and bitter perception". Physiology & Behavior. 88 (3): 215–26. PMC . PMID 16782140. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.05.033.
- BBC Supertaster Test
- Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) 171200 (thiourea testing)
- How we taste – and the truth about 'supertasters'. An interview with sensory scientist Juyun Lim of Oregon State University and winemaker John Eliassen (March 29, 2011)