Last week I learned some fascinating information about every child’s least favorite food (and what has now become my most favorite) Brussels Sprouts. According to Now I Know, a daily fact email that I highly recommend subscribing to if you’re the type of person who want to have super random cocktail party conversations, the reason children don’t like sprouts is biological!
Brussels sprouts contain a chemical compound in them which triggers a response from the bitter-detecting taste buds on our tongues. And as Popular Science notes, we lose taste buds as we age, and the bitter taste therefore isn't as strong as we get older. But children take the full brunt of the bitterness. Further, PopSci argues, children's aversion to bitter foods isn't just stubbornness, but perhaps evolutionary -- the overwhelming taste signaling, perhaps, a toxin in the food being eaten.
And for those grown-ups who still don’t like them, well, they’re just genetically messed up.
As reported by the BBC, a typical person has "25 types of bitter receptors" on their tongues. But some people -- "due to their genetic make-up," as stated by Dr. Lisa Methven, a food and nutritional services professor quoted by the BBC -- have more. Dr. Methven estimates that these people are super-sensitive to bitter foods -- "they experience the bitter tasted up to 60 times higher than someone with an average number of taste buds." Understandably, these people typically hate Brussels sprouts.
Fortunately for both The Husband and myself, our genetics are normal…at least regarding our bitter receptors.