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A Matter of Taste

Have you ever wondered why some of us absolutely love certain foods, while others can’t stand them? We usually chalk it up to personal preference or “acquired taste”, but recent research suggests a different explanation – our genetics. In fact, scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center – a research institute specializing in the study of taste - have gone so far as to say we each live in a unique world of flavour.

To better understand these unique differences, researchers have successfully linked many taste receptors with their underlying gene variants. The T1R3 variant, for example, has been linked to receptors responsible for “sweet” taste. Slight mutations to this variant have been shown to change sugar sensitivity and, subsequently, our consumption of sweet foods. Beyond explaining why some of us have a “sweet tooth”, an understanding of sugar sensitivity can enhance our understanding of diseases closely linked with sugar intake, such as diabetes and obesity.

You may be asking yourself… Does that mean my hate of brussels sprouts is hardwired? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. While genetics play a role in our innate tastes, our love of food is ultimately shaped over a lifetime of eating.

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