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Are you a supertaster' Find out

Denver, Feb. 15 (Reuters): So that’s why George Bush Sr. doesn’t like broccoli'

The former President’s famous aversion to the green vegetable might be put down to the fact that he could be a “supertaster” — a group classified by a scientist as being so sensitive to bitter tasting foods that they want to spit them out.

Such supertasters live in a “neon taste world” roughly three times as intense as the “pastel world” of non-tasters, according to Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University.

Bitter foods include coffee, chocolate and dark green vegetables. While supertasters may be coffee drinkers they’re not as crazy about the taste as non-tasters or medium tasters, Bartoshuk said. They also tend to shun some healthy foods, she said. “Supertasters who don’t like bitter foods are at risk by avoiding some anti-cancer foods,” she told reporters at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Very preliminary results from a study of colonoscopies of a group of older men, showed men who ate fewer vegetables were heavier, she said.

To demonstrate how supertasters react to very bitter substances she did an experiment with reporters in the room. She handed out a little piece of filter paper with the substance 6-n-prophylthiourea on it.

The supertasters could barely keep the paper in their mouth for a few seconds, medium tasters were not that bothered and non-tasters couldn’t figure out what the excitement was about.

But the test is more than just a parlour game because supertasters could be avoiding some foods, like green vegetables, which can be cancer fighters. “We have to figure out a way to make them (bitter foods) palatable,” she said.

Linguagen Corp., a privately held biotechnology company makes ingredients to improve the taste of food or medicine, she said. In January, the company received a patent on compounds that inhibit bitter taste, the company said on its website.

About one-quarter of the population is made up of supertasters. Extreme supertasters represent only about 10 to 15 per cent of the population, she said.

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