Bitter taste genetics – the relationship to tasting, liking, consumption and health
Bitter is the most complex of human tastes, and is arguably the most important. Aversion to bitter taste is important for detecting toxic compounds in food; however, many beneficial nutrients also taste bitter and these may therefore also be avoided as a consequence of bitter taste. While many polymorphisms in TAS2R genes may result in phenotypic differences that influence the range and sensitivity of bitter compounds detected, the full extent to which individuals differ in their abilities to detect bitter compounds remains unknown. Simple logic suggests that taste phenotypes influence food preferences, intake and consequently health status. However, it is becoming clear that genetics only plays a partial role in predicting preference, intake and health outcomes, and the complex, pleiotropic relationships involved are yet to be fully elucidated.