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Press release content from NewMediaWire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

Sensitivity to bitter tastes may be why some people eat fewer vegetables

November 11, 2019
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Jennifer L. Smith Ph.D. R.N.
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Jennifer L. Smith Ph.D. R.N.

Research Highlights:A gene that makes some compounds taste bitter may make it harder for some people to add heart-healthy vegetables to their diet.Researchers hope to learn more from this type of genetic research to help people with aversions to certain foods eat more vegetables in the future.Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT/5 a.m. ET Monday, Nov. 11, 2019( ) - November 11, 2019 - DALLAS - A specific gene makes certain compounds taste bitter, which may make it harder for some people to add heart-healthy vegetables to their diet, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 — November 16-18 in Philadelphia. The Association’s Scientific Sessions is an annual, premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.“Your genetics affect the way you taste, and taste is an important factor in food choice,” said Jennifer L. Smith, Ph.D., R.N., study author and a postdoctoral fellow in cardiovascular science at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine in Lexington. “You have to consider how things taste if you really want your patient to follow nutrition guidelines.”Everyone inherits two copies of a taste gene called TAS2R38. People who inherit two copies of the variant called AVI aren’t sensitive to bitter tastes from certain chemicals. Those with one copy of AVI and another called PAV perceive bitter tastes of these chemicals, however, individuals with two copies of PAV, often called “super-tasters,” find the same foods exceptionally bitter.“We’re talking a ruin-your-day level of bitter when they tasted the test compound. These people are likely to find broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage unpleasantly bitter; and they may also react negatively to dark chocolate, coffee and sometimes beer,” Smith said.Researchers analyzed food-frequency questionnaires from 175 people (average age 52, more than 70% female) and found  that people with the PAV form of the gene were more than two and a half times as likely to rank in the bottom half of participants on the number of vegetables eaten. Bitter-tasting status did not influence how much salt, fat or sugar the participants ate.“We thought they might take in more sugar and salt as flavor enhancers to offset the bitter taste of other foods, but that wasn’t the case. Down the road we hope we can use genetic information to figure out which vegetables people may be better able to accept and to find out which spices appeal to supertasters so we can make it easier for them to eat more vegetables,” Smith said.Co-authors are Steven Estus, Ph.D.; Terry A Lennie, Ph.D., R.N.; Debra K Moser, Ph.D., R.N.; Misook Lee Chung, Ph.D., R.N.; and Gia Mudd-Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N. Author disclosures are in the abstract.Additional Resources:Downloadable multimedia available on the right column of the release link      For more news at AHA Scientific Sessions 2019, follow us on Twitter   #AHA19.Statements and conclusions of study authors presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association’s policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at  .The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. Scientific Sessions 2019 is November 16-18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. More than 12,000 leading physicians, scientists, cardiologists and allied health care professionals from around the world convene at the Scientific Sessions to participate in basic, clinical and population science presentations, discussions and curricula that can shape the future of cardiovascular science and medicine, including prevention and quality improvement. During the three-day meeting, attendees receive exclusive access to over 4,100 original research presentations and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME), Continuing Education (CE) or Maintenance of Certification (MOC) credits for educational sessions. Engage in the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media via #AHA19.About the American Heart AssociationThe American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on , , or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.###For Media Inquiries and AHA Volunteer Expert Perspective:AHA News Media in Dallas: 214-706-1173AHA News Media Office, Nov. 16-18, 2019 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia: 215-418-2450For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)and