Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bitter Blockers Might Make Life a Little Sweeter

For most people, loving sweets is far more common than loving bitter foods. In fact, lots of people simply can't stand the bitter stuff, and it turns them off from eating it. The trouble is, lots of bitter foods are really good for us, and avoiding them isn't a good idea if health is a priority. So what's a bitter-hater to do?

Scientists as the Givaudan Flavors Corporation in Ohio have developed an enhanced "bitterness blocker" called GIV3616, which targets certain taste buds and keeps them from recognizing bitter tastes. While they won't make your beets taste like chocolate cake, researchers believe that these 'bitter blockers' may be the key to getting people to eat more bitter foods like kale, arugula and endives and broccoli in addition to grapefruits, lemons, cranberries and dark chocolate.

Foods like spinach and broccoli are packed with nutrients like calcium, magnesium and zinc, but some people just plain struggle to swallow them down. If you think that's a little silly, consider the fact that a significant proportion of people are known as 'super tasters', meaning that they don't just taste what you and I taste - they can detect certain compounds and flavours at a much higher level which might frankly render certain foods repulsive.

As extreme as these measures may sound, adding chemicals to food is nothing new - we are exposed to a multitude of different food additives each day. Now, I'm not suggesting that is a good thing, but if we consider how many people douse "bad-tasting" healthy foods in sugary, salty and fat-filled sauces and dressings to mask their taste, perhaps bitter blockers aren't such a bad idea when it comes to whittling a few waistlines. Ultimately, a risk-benefit assessment would need to be done in order to truly determine what would actually cause us the least harm.

You won't find me in line to get my hands on this stuff if it hits the market, but then again, I'm biased because I love my bitters! How about you?