Learn to Love Your Vegetables

9) Be Adventurous
Some vegetables you may have never tried may be surprisingly pleasing to your palate. For instance, if you don't enjoy the tang of green peppers, try purple or red ones, which are far sweeter. Supermarket produce departments offer an increasing variety of exotic vegetables such as baby leeks, daikon or broccoflower; give them a try.

10) Boot Your Inner Child
As you grow older, your sense of taste grows less discerning, so the vegetables you hated in 1983 may not be as offensive in 2003. If you allow your childhood biases to keep you from getting your greens, you are seriously shortchanging your health. Give vegetables another chance and you may be glad you did.

Science separates people into two groups, "tasters" and "nontasters," based on their ability to sense a chemical called phenylthiocarbamide. In the late 1970s, Linda Bartoshuk, Ph.D., a taste researcher at Yale University, began to test people for sensitivity to a similar chemical called 6-n-propylthiouracil, or PROP. Her work revealed a subset of tasters, dubbed "supertasters," who were particularly sensitive to PROP's bitter flavor. In comparisons to nontasters, supertasters tasted more sweetness in table sugar, more bitterness in foods and beverages such as black coffee, and more sourness in fruits.

As luck would have it, the compounds that give vegetables their health benefits lean toward the bitter end of the scale, which makes supertasters more likely to reject them, explains Valerie Duffy, Ph.D., R.D., an associate professor in the dietetics program at the University of Connecticut.

The good news is that sensitivity to PROP is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, as supertasters tend to dislike fatty and sugary foods. "Supertasters have lower cardiovascular risks, but at the same time they may have elevated cancer risk because they're not eating all those bitter vegetables," says Bartoshuk.

Here's how to determine if you can fairly call yourself a supertaster.
What you need:
- A gummed reinforcer ring (the kind used on loose-leaf paper) - Blue food coloring - One cotton swab - A magnifying glass

How to do it:
- Put the reinforcer ring on either side of the midline of your tongue, with one side of the ring touching the edge of the tongue. - Use the cotton swab to dab blue food coloring in the center of the ring. - Remove the ring and, using the magnifying glass, count the pink circles on the blue background of the gum reinforcer ring. These circles are called "fungiform papillae," and they correspond to the number of taste buds.

What it means: If there are more than 30 circles in the ring, you're a supertaster, which places you within 25% of the population. Having from five to 10 rings means you're a nontaster, and anywhere in between identifies you as a normal taster.



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