Posts tagged ‘phenylthiocarbamide’

Some People are Genetically Predisposed to Dislike Broccoli

By Chad Upton | Editor

Broccoli and brussels sprouts are popular vegetables for kids to feed the dog under the table.

My brother and I had a really smart dog growing up, which must be why he didn’t like broccoli either. Although, he always liked to do what we did, so I don’t know if he actually disliked it or if he just liked to make the same face when he ate broccoli too. You know the face, when you squeeze your eyes shut and use your tongue to scrap any residual taste off the roof of your mouth.

Getting kids to eat their vegetables can be a tough task, but there are plenty of adults who don’t like vegetables either. So why do some people like vegetables such as broccoli and other people passionately dislike them?

There are many reasons why people dislike vegetables. My brother and I always said it was the texture, not the taste. But, it was the taste and it’s scientifically proven.

There is an organic compound called phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) that tastes very bitter. Well, it’s very bitter to some people, it’s tasteless to others.  About 70% of people have genetic traits that make them sensitive to the bitter taste of PTC, the rest of the population does not taste it.

While PTC itself is not found in food, there are a number of similar compounds which are. Many vegetables from the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, horseradish, wasabi, mustard, brussels sprouts) contain these compounds.

Additionally, people who do not smoke and do not drink coffee or tea, taste PTC more than those who do consume coffee, tea and cigarettes. One big group of the population who doesn’t consume coffee, tea and cigarettes is children.

So, when you see kids who passionately dislike some vegetables, they may actually taste something that you do not.

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Photo: Jules: Stonesoup (cc)

Sources: Indiana Public Media, Science Daily, Wikipedia (Broccoli, Brassica, Brassicaceae, Cruciferous, Kale, Phenylthiocarbamide)

October 1, 2010 at 4:00 am 17 comments


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