Yes, supertaster is a real word. Are you a supertaster, average taster, or non-taster? Did you know these categories even existed? They are relatively new terms, coined by scientist Linda Bartoshuk in 1991 at Yale University. See what kind of taster you are with a quick test, and learn more about how it may unexpectedly affect your health.
What is a Supertaster?
Everyone has a different number of tastebuds on their tongue. The more tastebuds you have, the better you can detect dimensions of flavor, and with more intensity. Tastebuds on your tongue are housed on small, mushroom-like bumps called fungiform-papillae. Each fungiform papillae holds 3-5 tastebuds. A supertaster has more than 30 fungiform-papillae in an area the size of a hole punch.
- Blue food dye
- A friend, camera, or mirror
- Wax paper and a hole punch, or hole punch reinforcers
- A cup of water
- If you’re using wax paper, cut a small, coin-sized piece of wax paper and punch a hole in the center.
- Place one drop of blue food coloring on your tongue, and use the cup of water to swish it around your mouth for a moment. Swallow any excess saliva.
- Place the wax paper or hole punch reinforcer on your tongue, and with the help of a friend, mirror, or camera, count the number of larger bumps inside the circle.
Interpreting the Results
The following standards classify people into non-tasters, average tasters and supertasters. In a standard, hole-punch sized area of the tongue (circle, 6mm diameter) non-tasters have fewer than 15 fungiform-papillae. Average tasters have between 15-30, and supertasters have over 30. Genetics can also influence the intensity of certain flavors.
Supertasters are much more sensitive to flavors, which means that some supertasters may shy away from foods that are fatty or filled with sugar. The fatty or sugary taste is overpowering and unpleasant. This means that supertasters may be skinnier than non-tasters and average tasters.
Additionally, many supertasters find alcohol and tobacco to be too bitter. They are less likely to be addicted to these substances, which can have a positive effect on their health.
The strong bitter flavors of many healthy vegetables may be too much for a supertaster to handle. Supertasters can sometimes avoid healthy vegetables because they can’t handle the intensity of the bitterness. These vegetables not only provide important vitamins, they also reduce the risk of some cancers. The diet of a supertaster may increase their chance of colon cancer.
Also, since salt can help to mask bitter flavors, supertasters tend to oversalt their food to hide less enjoyable flavors. Too much salt in your diet can also have negative impacts on your health, including high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Obviously, the degree to which you taste things is on a gradient, and people have personal preferences in addition to number of tastebuds. We hope this information helps you to feel empowered to understand yourself better, not classified into a box.