Have you ever noticed that certain people are far more sensitive to certain tastes than the rest of us, while others seem to barely notice any taste at all? This is caused by special structures found on the tongue called the “fungi form papillae”. Their number determines your ability to perceive taste ­ the more papillae, the stronger your sense of taste. Their number is genetically predetermined. We can find about 100­150 taste buds inside each of the papillae.

The thing that is so special about these structures is, that they give you a valid reason to hate kale, asparagus, brussel sprouts and many other kinds of vegetables that your parents forced you to eat when you were a child, because they taste very bitter to those with a high number of papillae ­ referred to as supertasters.
However, being a supertaster isn’t all bad ­ although they tend to avoid many kinds of vegetables, they are usually leaner and healthier than the rest of the population, as they also prefer less sweet and less creamy foods.
So, how do you know if you are a supertaster? You can check this chart for what supertasters like and don’t like and compare with your preferences:

Supertasters don’t like:

brussels sprouts
creamy dressings
whole fat milk
hard liquors

Supertasters like:

soy sauce (to reduce the bitterness ofcertain foods)
sweeter kinds of fruits and vegetables
skim milk

Since these preferences can vary from person to person, you can’t say if you are a supertaster just based on that. There is, however, a way to find out for sure. It is possible to easily count your papillae, and you can do it at home. You will need blue food dye and a paper ring with a diameter of approximately 0,6cm. When you dye your tongue blue, the papillae will stay pink. Put the paper ring on your tongue and count your papillae. An average person with an average taste has between 15­30 papillae, people with a weak sense of taste have less than 15 and a supertaster would have more than 30.
My first idea when I saw articles about this topic on science websites was to run my own experiments and write a paper, but because of the lack of time, this article will have to suffice. The experiment is, however, very simple and if someone is willing to test themselves and share the results with me, I’d be thrilled!

by Daniela Kročianová

Year 2, Issue 2