A new study has concluded that preschool children who are sensitive to bitter flavors are very likely to be among those who do not eat vegetables.
The researchers publishing their study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, have explained that their findings suggest that the naturally sensitive taste buds help explain why some children are so staunchly opposed to vegetables.
The researchers had explained that their experiment that was conducted on 65 preschool children had found that among those children who were very sensitive towards bitterness were most likely to eat fewer vegetables. They found that some of them even hesitated for eating not only bitter vegetables, like broccoli and olives, but also those that were sweeter like carrots and red peppers.
It was explained that in recent years, scientists have identified a gene, now known as 'TAS2R38', which controls a receptor for bitter flavor. Reports also showed that a study published last year found that children with a few difference of that gene are particularly sensitive to tastes, and they were able to detect even a very small amount of a bitter-tasting compound when added in water. The researchers found in their current study, when tested in the same way, 37% of the children said that the water tasted 'yucky' or bad, while the remaining claimed not to have tasted anything, and were considered as 'nontasters'.
The researchers claimed that when the children were given a range of vegetables from bitter-tasting vegetables like broccoli, olives and cucumbers and sweeter ones like carrots and red peppers to snack on, the sensitive kids ate notably fewer bitter vegetables. They also found that only 8% of the nontaster children, refused to eat all vegetables while 32% of the children who were considered sensitive refused to eat.
The researchers hence explained that the parents of picky eaters should recognize that their children might not be experiencing the same taste sensation that they are. Dr Beverly J. Tepper, a professor of food science at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and the co-author of the study said, "
Parents should try not to project their own food preferences onto their children."
She further explained that, for example the parent of a nontaster who loves broccoli might have a bitter-sensitiveer child who probably doesn't enjoy the greens in the same way, the parent does. They however did explain, comforting parents who regularly engage in mealtime struggles, that this doesn't mean that bitter-sensitive kids are intended to reject vegetables their whole lives.
Dr Tepper said, "We do change our food preferences as we grow and learn, noting that the "impact of genetics isn't set in stone." She further said, "Whether there's a more immediate fix to the bitter-sensitivity issue is unclear. A tasty sauce might make vegetables more palatable to a sensitive child, but dousing veggies with toppings may not be the most nutritionally sound choice. She concluded by cautioning that it was always safer to serve cooked vegetables rather than raw ones as cooking might take some of the sting out.