It’s an issue that creeps up from time to time. You find you’re at an impasse when you want to order a pizza and crave your favourite pineapple as a topping, yet your friends think this is revolting. You love coriander, but your partner thinks it tastes like soap.
But why? Why do you love certain foods while others despise them?
There are many different factors that contribute to your personal perceptions of food. In this article, we’ll talk about the different kinds of tasters as well as the outside factors that contribute to the overall tastes we each experience.
How we taste
Now, to fully understand why individuals either love or hate certain foods, it’s important to appreciate how food tastes different to each person. There are several kinds of tasters: non-tasters, medium tasters and supertasters (yes, really). The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in the USA explains that the majority of individuals (around 50%) are medium tasters, while around 25% of people are supertasters and 25% are non-tasters. Psychological Science tells us that Linda Bartoshuk is the American psychologist who first discovered the concept of supertasters. She used a bitter-tasting test to find out that some individuals have much stronger reactions to foods and therefore that taste is more intense for them.
The kind of taster you are, however, is not the only contributing factor to the foods you like. According to the USA’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), owing to genetic differences in the tongue, every individual has different perceptions of food. Just as some individuals see different colours than others do (remember #thedress controversy), some people taste foods a little differently as well. This is the primary reason why some individuals like certain foods while others do not.
Another reason why individuals may or may not like certain foods is also due to what they were exposed to as a child (and even before they were born!). According to the NCBI, younger children like foods that are familiar to them since this is what they are used to. Along with that, many children typically enjoy sweet foods as these foods activate the pleasure centre of the brain. In addition, research has shown that the food that women eat during the course of their pregnancy as well as when breastfeeding may also impact the flavours their children will eventually prefer.
So the next time you and your friends are discussing why you like or dislike the same food, remember that there are many outside factors that affect these differences. You could potentially be part of the non-tasters or supertasters group, and even the foods you were exposed to before you were born may contribute to why you love or hate certain foods.
And hey, just think, now you can use all this new-found knowledge as an excuse when you don’t want to eat your broccoli!
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