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31 Mar 2003 08:40
Picky eaters run the risk of contracting cancerous diseases because of their aversion to vegetables, a study reveals.
The study, by scientists in the United States, found a link between what is eaten, the ability to taste bitterness, and the risk of killer diseases.
Linda Bartoshuk from Yale University said that, although picky eaters did not necessarily have difficult personalities, their intense sense of taste led to them avoiding many foods.
She said: “The ability to taste bitter substances has always been associated with poison detection, but now we have found all these health associations. We know people’s whole diets are different, based on their taste sensitivity.”
Describing picky eaters as “supertasters” she said that they avoided very sweet, high fat foods and tended to be thinner and healthier.
“They taste bitterness in food that other people don’t notice.
Because the taste buds also detect the sensations of touch and pain, supertasters are also the most sensitive to the heat of chillies and the feel of fat, with women more likely than men to adopt diets avoiding similar foods.
Bartoshuk and her colleagues also found a correlation between weight and a history of ear infections which also seem to be related to taste sensitivity. This relationship may be connected to the ability to appreciate the sensation of eating fat, which can be increased by upper respiratory infections.
But the scientists found that, because of their aversion to fat, supertasters were less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease.
The genes responsible for non-tasting, medium tasting and supertasting may have emerged during evolution because they provided each group with certain health advantages, related to their food preferences. - Sapa-DPA
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