Gustation and Super Tasters

Topics: Taste, Sense, Olfaction Pages: 2 (778 words) Published: April 30, 2012
Anna Hirssig
Psych 2618
Research Paper 1
Super-taster or Super-smeller
Taste, or gustation, is one sense that we often take for granted. What is taste one might ask? Taste is what we perceive when we eat something and can sense bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami. Other factors that are important in our perception of taste are the temperature of the food and the texture of the food. All of these factors are aided by our sense of smell. The sense of smell can give us at least seventy to seventy-five percent of what we taste. Without our nose, our sense of tasting would be very bland. That is the reason people plug their nose when they do not like a food, and have to eat it. “The sense of smell is an important sensory system in humans. The sense of smell greatly enhances the flavor of ingested food.” [ (Smutzer, Sayed, & Sayed, 2006) ] Some people have the gift of being a super-taster, and seem to have more taste buds than most people do.

A super-taster is someone who is sensitive to 6-npropylthiouracil or PROP. Super-tasters are able taste the bitterness of food that non-tasters cannot. They are more aware of the sweetness of food than are non-tasters. They also are very good at recognizing aspects of dairy food and hotness of peppers. Only super-tasters are genetically programmed to taste PROP and a simple taste test will detect them. “This little test may provide genetic clues as to why some people like vegetables and others don’t; why some can eschew high-fat foods and others can’t; and why some people stay thin while others (many others) gain weight.” [ (Flaherty, 2007) ] They can describe with different adjectives what they are eating better than normal people. Most super-tasters do not like coffee, vegetables such as raw broccoli and spinach, usually do not smoke, and consume less alcohol than non-tasters on the average. Super-tasters make up about twenty-five percent of the population and another twenty-five percent are non-tasters. The...

Cited: Flaherty, J. A. (2007). Are You a "Super-Taster"? Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter , Vol. 25 Issue 2, p6.
Smutzer, G., Sayed, S., & Sayed, N. (2006). Examination of Human Chemosensory Function. American Biology Teacher , Vol. 68 Issue 5, p269-274.
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