Tasting the bitter….
Did you know that some people can’t taste the bitterness in dark chocolate?
Or — to put it the other way — Did you know that to some people dark chocolate tastes really bitter?
There is a really common genetic variant in the bitter taste receptor gene that impacts your ability to taste certain bitter substances. (TAS2R38 gene)
Pretty cool… but wait! It gets better.
Researchers have done big genetic studies on people with chronic sinus infections — and the genetic variant that popped up as increasing the risk turned out to be the bitter taste receptor TAS2R38.
So why would a bitter taste receptor gene influence sinus infection risk? Turns out that the bitter taste receptors are located in cells throughout the body, including in the nose.
Within the nose, the TAS2R38 receptor is activated by substances given off by certain nasty bacteria that cause sinus infections.
When activated in the nose, that bitter taste receptor causes the release of nitric oxide, which can kill the bacteria.
Thus — being able to taste the bitter in dark chocolate (and broccoli) is linked to a decreased risk of chronic sinus infections.
Check out this article which explains how to check your 23andMe or AncestryDNA data for this genetic variant.
Want to learn more about other taste receptor genes? Check out: https://www.geneticlifehacks.com/intriguing-genes-do-you-taste-what-i-taste/