“I hate Cabbages, I get it from my Dad”; “I love Spinach just like my Mom”-Such sentences are more than common in our lives. Be it a personality, a physical trait or a food choice immediately we link it with our family roots. Though we might not be so very inclined to do so our grandparents come up with such statements spontaneously that we do follow suit. Genetics is a sea and study on our genes is never-ending. There is something new cropping up every single day in the world of genetic research and the latest in study are the genes that affect food preferences. Results clearly show that each of us are tasting the same food in different ways!
Receptors, a type of nerve found in the body sends signals from the gut to the brain. The receptor in each of our body determines the type of food that we prefer-have a sweet tooth, salty pinch or a spicy hangover. How these receptors work also brings answers to the reasons behind various queries such as why some people find broccoli to be extremely bitter or smell a fragrant odor after eating asparagus. We all hate the bitter gourd for its bitter taste, some don’t prefer to eat cabbages due to its pungent smell and avoid papayas owing to their unpleasant odor. But there are some individuals who can’t stand the sight of cilantro or broccoli.
Cilantro: Have you heard someone comparing cilantro to the taste of soap or the smell of bedbug? Genetics plays an integral role in cornering certain people into getting these weird tastes and smells-especially the olfactory genes that plays a main role here. Those who hate cilantro have both a copy of the gene that detects soapy flavor and a variant of the olfactory gene that’s makes the individual extra sensitive to bitter taste thereby making the herb’s bitter taste more pronounced than in the case of other people. Such people can either avoid the herb completely, substitute it with other herbs such as basil or parsley or crush the herb completely to take off the bitter taste as much as possible.
Asparagus: Folate is needed for all, especially for pregnant women to help them avoid neural tube defects in the developing offspring. Dietitians and health experts recommend consuming folate-rich vegetables such as leafy greens, beets and asparagus to make DNA, other genetic material and for cell division. Studies show that almost 50-65% individuals smell a distinctive odor in their urine after eating folate-rich foods and asparagus, including green, white and purples, is no exception. Researchers have not yet been able to pinpoint a definite reason but contribute it to be the work of a number of chemicals such as asparagusic acid, methanethiol and dimethyl sulfide. Just like in the case of cilantro, the individuals here are also linked to the genetic component that brings about the smell in urine output. They too possess the olfactory gene that signals the brain about the asparagus fragrance! But if you can’t compromise on the smell you always have other folate-rich foods to substitute for the nutrient needs.
Broccoli: if you love cauliflower, purple or green cabbages, broccoli and Brussels sprouts then you are a fan of the crucifers! These nutritious vegetables belong to the cruciferous family that boasts of high folate, vitamin C and K content. They are also good sources of fiber and low in calories making them a good pick for salads and sabzis for those wishing to watch their weight! Despite such benefits many individuals don’t prefer to eat them as they have a bitter taste that lingers in your tongue, even more for people whose bitter taste receptors function extremely strongly. That’s because all of these vegetables contain sulfur-based compounds that bind to bitter taste receptors and send signals to the brain. The brain processes these taste as bitter in all of us but it is our genes that makes us respond to this message of bitterness in different ways-those who love eating them don’t feel the bitterness to be much intense while those whose genes enhance the bitter taste find them really annoying and distasteful. But even such people find it bearable to eat these veggies after cooking them rather than eating them raw as the heat generated kills some of the compounds that produce the bitter taste. Next time if you find Broccoli unwelcoming, try roasting it in the oven or cook it with your pasta for an enriched nutrient experience.
It’s common for kids to wrinkle their nose at the sight of Broccoli or radish! But there are many adults too who find such vegetables repulsive! Maybe it’s in their genes affecting their food choices, making them go haywire at the sight of certain foods. It’s better to try and include all foods in your meal to make it well-balanced and healthy but if your genes prevent you from eating some of them please don’t panic. There is a replacement food that’s as good in nutrients as the one you despise. If bitterness is in your gene and you find many foods to be out of your reach it is better to get in touch with reputed dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com who can help you find the best replacements and plan a daily menu that would fulfill the daily dose of nutrients required.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
+91 7846 800 800
Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.