What It Really Means To Be A Supertaster

If you know someone who is an unusually picky eater, they are probably not trying to be difficult. It could be that they are a supertaster, someone for whom flavors are much stronger than they are for everyone else.

Supertasters are born with more taste buds than average, according to Healthline. It is believed that they also have a specific gene, TAS2R38, which increases the taste of bitterness. For them, all tastes — sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami — are particularly strong. Common food for supertasters to avoid include broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, and turnips.

About 25 percent of the population appear to be supertasters, according to the Harvard T. Chan School of Public Health. In contrast, about 25 percent of the population also have fewer taste buds on their tongue and reduced overall taste sensation. These people are known as non-tasters. The rest of the population falls into the middle and has an average sense of taste.

Pros and cons of being a supertaster

To deal with their aversion to bitter tastes, supertasters may use more salt than on average, as salt is known to mask bitter tastes. A non-taster, on the other hand, tends to use less salt on their food. Some supertasters are also particularly sensitive to sweet or fatty tastes and will avoid foods with these profiles.

Supertasters also tend to avoid strong tastes like alcohol and cigarettes. Because of this, they generally have a better cardiovascular profile than someone who is a non-taster, and tend to have a lower body mass index.

They do have to make an effort to eat vegetables, however, something which is known to be important to overall health. Eating few vegetables can put supertasters at risk for colon polyps and cancer, as many fibrous vegetables that aid digestion are simply too bitter for them to tolerate.

One piece of good news, particularly for parents with children who may be supertasters, is that as we age, we lose taste buds. While supertasters will likely always be sensitive to certain foods, with time they may grow out of some of their food aversions.