A super-taster is a person with sensitive taste buds, most specifically to bitter or salty flavors. The only way to know for sure if a person is a super-taster is to take a PROP test (6-n-propylthiouracil). The test consists of placing a small piece of paper on the tongue. A super-taster will have an immediate reaction to a severely bitter taste. Medium-tasters will show a mild bitter reaction, but nothing near the degree of a super-taster. A non-taster will have no reaction at all. It will simply taste like a piece of paper on the tongue.
Are you a super-taster?
Genealogists have been studying the sense of taste since the 1930’s, and the results are widely accepted that of Caucasians there are: 25% non-tasters, 50% medium-tasters and 25% super-tasters. A super-taster will also have a stronger sensation for sweet, hot or spicy foods and carbonated beverages.
Does taste affect weight or BMI?
According to a Tuft University study by Beverly J. Tepper, of the Caucasian women found to be super-tasters 20% were slimmer than non-tasters and medium-tasters. In fact, it was found that taste plays very little role in our eating habits other than deciding what foods we enjoy. Other mental factors, including body image and health consciousness, play a much larger role in how and what we choose to eat. Another factor is simply the way of life of the family or home community. We eat what foods are available to us.
The bigger concern for the super-taster is their daily salt intake. Most have a love for salty snacks or tend to over salt processed foods. Since processed foods have salt already added, the sodium levels of a super-taster may be higher than that of a non or medium-taster. A better alternative is to prepare foods at home from scratch and allow them to salt to taste at the table. The amount added from a shaker will be less than the total of a processed meal with added salt.
My child is a super-taster, what are the best foods?
It may be harder to entice a child super-taster to eat green vegetables as they have a bitter taste. Cheese is another bitter tasting item. That’s not to say that you can’t entice kids to try different foods. In fact, Tepper’s study showed that an adventurous eater will try different foods and accept some that another super-taster would never attempt.
For the best success try to offer a small buffet of vegetables and see what the kids are drawn to naturally. Change the menu slightly to offer new side dishes if you have an adventurous eater. John Hayes, assistant professor of food science at Penn State, recommends consumers read food labels and look for foods containing less than 480mg of sodium per serving.
Penn State: Some people do not taste salt like others
Tufts.edu: The Super Tasters
CNN Health: Love salt? You might be a ‘supertaster’