Supertaster

supertaster

A supertaster is a person who experiences the sense of taste with far greater intensity than average. Women are more likely to be supertasters, as are Asians and Africans. The cause of this heightened response is currently unknown, although it is thought to be, at least in part, due to an increased number of fungiform papillae (small mushroom-like structures on the tongue that house taste buds). Supertasters contrast with nontasters who have a decreased sense. The term originates with experimental psychologist Linda Bartoshuk who has spent much of her career studying genetic variation in taste perception.

In some environments, heightened taste response, particularly to bitterness, would represent an important advantage in avoiding potentially toxic plant alkaloids. However, in other environments, increased response to bitter may have limited the range of palatable foods. In a modern, energy-rich environment, supertasting may be cardioprotective, due to decreased liking and intake of fat.

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