Find out how to tell if you're a supertaster and how it can impact your food preferences and health!
According to the National Institutes of Health, 25% of Americans qualify as “supertasters”.
The word “supertaster” brings to mind an elite group of sommeliers or food critics but while the fun name makes it sound desirable, there are pros and cons to being a supertaster.
Supertasters have greater sensitivity to taste, likely partially due to having more tastebuds, but they experience the greatest sensitivity to bitter foods. This means that nutritional powerhouses like broccoli, kale and other cruciferous veggies and greens often taste overwhelmingly bitter to a supertaster.
Not surprisingly, some studies have shown that supertasters are less likely to eat greens and cruciferous vegetables.
On the plus side, super tasters are less likely to enjoy very sugary or fatty foods and often have a lower BMI.
What are cruciferous veggies and why are they important?
So you may be thinking, why not just eat other fruits and vegetables if cruciferous veggies don't taste good to you?
Sure, you could totally do that and still have a healthy diet, but don't give up too easily! Cruciferous veggies include way more than just cabbage and kale and they're serious nutritional powerhouses.
Some common cruciferous veggies include arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radishes and turnips.
Among their nutritional benefits, these foods are high in fiber, folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. Cruciferous veggies also contain chemicals called glucosinolates and phytonutrients that may potentially help fight cancer.
With that impressive nutritional profile, it's worth trying to find a way to eat cruciferous veggies that you actually enjoy, if you can. You may just have to get a little creative!
So how do you know if you're a supertaster or just kind of picky?
While picky eaters may avoid foods of a certain texture, color, or even whole food groups, supertasters' aversions mostly center around bitter foods. Supertasters are unlikely to love coffee, tea, dark chocolate, grapefruit, alcohol, or bitter greens.
Supertasters may dislike other foods with a strong flavor like spicy, sweet, or fatty foods as well.
You may be able to look at that list and know definitively that you are indeed a supertaster. But what if you're not so sure? If you really want to know, you can order a supertaster test kit to test your tongue.
Alternatively, bring back your middle school science class glory days with a simple at-home experiment. Using a hole punch, create a hole out of a clean piece of wax paper. Trim around the circle so you have a small piece of paper with a hole in the middle.
Put the circle on your tongue and count how many papillae (those little bumps on your tongue) you have within the circle. Supertasters should have around 35-60. You may want to put a bit of blue food coloring on your tongue (or drink some red wine!) to make it easier to distinguish.
If you think you, or someone in your family, is a supertaster, what do you do about it?
How do you make sure you get enough cruciferous and green veggies to be healthy?
I recommend smoothies! My tropical green smoothie and mixed berry green smoothie both have greens but they are in no way the predominant flavor. Start by adding just a little spinach and see if you can taste the bitterness in the smoothie. Experiment with adding more, or trying kale instead, until you reach your threshold.
You can also sneak cruciferous cauliflower into smoothies! It adds a wonderful creaminess in addition to the obvious nutrients. Try my purple haze smoothie to see if this strategy is palatable to you.
You might also try roasting veggies to bring out the natural sweetness and downplay the bitter taste. Did you know you can even roast grapefruit if you want a less bitter taste? You can also roast or sauté radishes to get rid of their signature sharp taste.
If none of these tricks work for you, don't give up! Taste sensitivity decreases with age so just keep trying and focus on all of the non-bitter produce you can enjoy to get in those nutrients.
Not a Supertaster? These recipes are for you!
If you happen to love all things cruciferous and green, here are some of my favorite recipes including these nutritional giants. Supertasters beware!
Harvest Kale Salad: If you haven't tried pomegranate arils in a salad, this one is a must! With so many flavors and textures going on, this is definitely not a boring salad.
Lemon Parsley Pork Chops with Cabbage: Even if you think you don't like cabbage, it's cooked with apples and butter here and is so delicious. The sweetness from the apple makes this a very kid-friendly way to introduce cabbage too.
Sweets, Beets & Kale Hash: I love a good breakfast hash. In addition to being delicious, it's one of the best ways to pack in the produce at breakfast.
Massaged Kale Salad: There are so many ways you can go with this one. Keep the basic recipe for massaged kale and experiment with the add-ins until you find your favorite!
Smoky Paprika Roasted Cauliflower: Super simple but complex in flavor, this is a perfect healthy side for burgers.