Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Show That The Human Genome Is Helpless In The Face Of Chocolate

Date:
February 5, 2001
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
Knowing that extreme sensitivity to some bitter tastes is genetically-driven, researchers in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine tried to find out if genetic taste markers might prevent some women from enjoying bitter chocolate or bitter espresso coffee.

Knowing that extreme sensitivity to some bitter tastes is genetically-driven, researchers in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine tried to find out if genetic taste markers might prevent some women from enjoying bitter chocolate or bitter espresso coffee. Dr. Adam Drewnowski, director of the school’s Nutritional Sciences Program, says the study by graduate student Agnes Ly and himself showed that any aversion to bitter taste, genetic or not, was easily overcome by the addition of a little sugar or a lot of fat. The study was published in the January issue of Chemical Sense, an Oxford University Press journal.

"Human genetics is not destiny, particularly when it comes to a love for coffee and chocolate," Drewnowski said. "All the women tested, regardless of their ability to taste bitterness, enjoyed chocolate. But the ones who were more sensitive to bitter flavors would drink lattιs, rather than straight espresso coffee."

The only genetic taste markers in humans involve a compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil or PROP. Some people find PROP extremely bitter and repulsive, whereas others cannot taste it at all. Though some genetic linkage studies have placed the PROP gene on human chromosome 5, the gene itself has not been described and its exact location is unknown. The women in the study, all UW students, were given pieces of blotting paper saturated with a solution of PROP. That is a common way to distinguish between PROP tasters and non-tasters. Past studies had shown that women who found PROP bitter to the point of revulsion were also more sensitive to some other bitter tastes, including the bitter taste of caffeine.

The study showed that PROP tasters were more likely to dislike solutions of pure caffeine in water. However, those differences were quickly eliminated by the addition of neohesperidine DC, an intense sweetener, derived from bitter oranges and supplied to the researchers by a company in Spain. There were no differences between PROP tasters and non-tasters in their evaluation or enjoyment of white, bittersweet, or bitter chocolate.

"Sensitivity to bitter can be managed by the addition of sugar and fat, as in mochaccinos or lattιs." Drewnowski said. "And chocolate is the classic combination of complex bitter flavors, sweetness and fat."

Genetic taste markers did not affect the taste response to chocolate.

"The lessons from chocolate can be applied to Brussels sprouts," Drewnowski said. "There are things that can be done in the kitchen to make these bitter foods acceptable. As we already know, making bitter foods palatable is important in adding phytonutrients to the diet."

Phytonutrients, such as those found in bitter vegetables, green teas, coffee and chocolate, are associated with decreased risk of some ailments, including cancer and heart disease.

As for why people like chocolate, Drewnowski, who also holds an appointment at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, said it is not necessary to look for chemical or nutritional explanations for enjoying its complex flavor.

"The human genome is powerless in the face of chocolate," Drewnowski said. "We all eat it because we like it, and we don’t need any scientific explanation to do that."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "Researchers Show That The Human Genome Is Helpless In The Face Of Chocolate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010205074522.htm>.
University Of Washington. (2001, February 5). Researchers Show That The Human Genome Is Helpless In The Face Of Chocolate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010205074522.htm
University Of Washington. "Researchers Show That The Human Genome Is Helpless In The Face Of Chocolate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/02/010205074522.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) — The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins