Are You a Supertaster?

Julie Ryan Evans

Salt ShakerIf you love salt (like me), then you just may be a supertaster.

While it sounds like a cool super power, a new study suggests it may not be such a good thing when it comes to our health.

"We've known for a long time that people don't all live in the same taste world," said the study's lead author, John Hayes, Ph.D. "There are supertasters and non-tasters. Supertasters live in a neon taste world -- everything is bright and vibrant. For non-tasters, everything is pastel. Nothing is ever really intense."

It definitely sounds like more fun to be a supertaster (They Might Be Giants even wrote a song about one), and previous (and logical) thinking would suggest that if you taste things more intensely, then you would require less of it to feel satisfied, right? While other studies have found that to be true for sugar and fat, this study shows that salt is in a different class.

Researchers found that the more intensely people taste salt, the more they want of it. They think it could be due to the wide variety of roles salt plays (such as cancelling out bitterness in some foods). So if you remove the salt in a food with some bitterness it becomes overwhelmingly bitter to a supertaster.

Not good news for low-sodium products and the push for Americans to reduce their salt intake because of the serious health consequences too much of it can cause (like high blood pressure and heart disease).

But just because it may be more difficult for supertasters to step away from salt shakers doesn't mean it can't be done. It just may mean more creativity in cooking and food choices and more willpower

Pass the pepper?

Are you a supertaster?

Image via Mark Heard/Flickr



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