Can't stand broccoli? It could be in your genes, researchers say

11 November 2019, 15:04

Dislike for broccoli may be in your genes
Dislike for broccoli may be in your genes. Picture: PA

By Sylvia DeLuca

Your genes may be to blame if eating broccoli, cabbage or sprouts, gives you a "ruin-your-day level" of bitter taste, according to researchers.

People who carry a certain gene may find particular vegetables "unpleasantly bitter", a study at the University of Kentucky’s school of medicine has found.

The same gene may also make people react negatively to dark chocolate, coffee and beer.

Everyone has two copies of the gene “taste receptor 2 member 38”, or TAS2R38, which has two variants known as haplotypes, called AVI and PAV.

It is people who happen to inherit two PAV variants that are known as “super-tasters” and find some foods exceptionally bitter, the research shows.

People who have the "bitter gene" are 2.6 times more likely to eat fewer vegetables than people who do not have that gene, according to a new study presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting.

Vegetables that people may find the most bitter are normally cruciferous, such as broccoli, kale, bok choy, arugula, watercress, collards and cauliflower.

Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts. Picture: PA

Describing how bad these foods will taste to those with the 'bitter gene", author of the study, Dr Jennifer Smith said: “We’re talking a ruin-your-day level of bitter when they tasted the test compound.

"We wanted to know if genetics affected the ability of people who need to eat heart-healthy foods from eating them," said Dr Smith.

"While we didn't see results in gene type for sodium, sugar or saturated fat, we did see a difference in vegetables," she said.

Cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli, are an important source of antioxidants. They have also been known to be beneficial for relieving pain, depression, and risk of cancer.

A separate study was carried out in Finland and found that 11.3 per cent of people have the double PAV combination that makes them very sensitive to bitter tastes.

Other studies suggested that a dislike of coriander may also be linked to your genes.