Intake of vegetables falls short of recommendations to lower risk of chronic diseases. Most research addresses bitterness as a sensory deterrent to consuming vegetables. We examined bitter and sweet sensations from vegetables as mediators of vegetable preference and intake as well as how these tastes vary with markers of genetic variation in taste (3.2 mM 6-n-propylthiouracil bitterness) and taste pathology (1.0 mM quinine bitterness, chorda tympani nerve relative to whole mouth). Seventy-one females and 39 males (18-60 years) reported prototypical tastes from and preference for Brussels sprouts, kale and asparagus as well as servings of vegetables consumed, excluding salad and potatoes. Intensity and hedonic ratings were made with the general Labeled Magnitude Scale. Data were analyzed with multiple linear regression and structural equation modeling. Vegetable sweetness and bitterness were independent predictors of more or less preference for sampled vegetables and vegetable intake, respectively. Those who taste PROP as most bitter also tasted the vegetables as most bitter and least sweet. The spatial pattern of quinine bitterness, suggestive of insult to chorda tympani taste fibers, was associated with less bitterness and sweetness from vegetables. Via structural equation modeling, PROP best explained variability in vegetable preference and intake via vegetable bitterness whereas the quinine marker explained variability in vegetable preference and intake via vegetable bitterness and sweetness. In summary, bitterness and sweetness of sampled vegetables varied by taste genetic and taste function markers, which explained differences in preference for vegetables tasted in the laboratory as well as overall vegetable intake outside the laboratory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience