Hate to eat certain vegetables? It could go down on your genes, say US scientists who have done new research.
Inheriting two copies of the unpleasant taste gene provides "destruction of your bitterness throughout the day" of foods such as broccoli and greens, they say.
It may explain why some people find it difficult to include enough vegetables in their diet, they say.
The gene can also make the taste of beer, coffee and dark chocolate unpleasant.
In an evolutionary sense, being sensitive to bitter taste can be beneficial – protecting people from eating things that can be poisonous.
But Dr. Ennifer Smith and colleagues at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine say it may also mean that some people are struggling to eat the recommended five-day fresh fruit and vegetables.
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Each inherits two copies of the TAS2R38 gene for taste. It encodes a protein in the language's taste receptors that allows us to taste bitterness.
People who inherit two copies of the variant of the TAS2R38 gene, called AVI, are not sensitive to the bitter tastes of certain chemicals. Those with one copy of the AVI and another called PAV perceive the bitter flavors of these chemicals, but not to the extreme degree as people with two copies of PAV, often called "super-tasters", who find the same food extremely bitter.
Scientists studied 175 people and found that those with two copies of the bitter-tasting PAV version of the gene ate only small amounts of leafy green vegetables that were good for the heart.
Dr. Smith told medical professionals at a meeting of the American Heart Association: "You have to think about how things work if you really want your patient to follow the nutrition guidelines."
Researchers hope to explore whether using spices can help mask the bitter taste and make vegetables more appealing to people who are wired to dislike certain varieties.