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Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies - Science Insider

HUMAN TASTE TEST: PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- For many parents, getting kids to eat their vegetables is a battle. It often requires patience, persistence, and maybe a little pleading on the side, but researchers say the reason some kids have a tougher time than others may be in their genes.. The tongue has about 10,000 taste buds. When these detect food particles, they send signals to the brain carrying information about their "taste." Each taste bud contains 50-100 taste cells, representing the five taste sensations: salty, sour, sweet, bitter and umami (the response to acidic salts like MSG, often used as a flavor enhancer in Asian dishes, processed meats, and processed cheeses, often labeled "savory"). Recent research indicates the existence of a sixth taste, one for calcium.

Each taste cell has receptors that bind to specific molecules and ions responsible for the various taste sensations, which connect to a sensory neuron leading back to the brain. So taste -- like all sensations -- resides in the brain. That's the reason different people like different things. Although a single cell may have several types of receptors, one may be more active than the others, so certain tastes will be preferred by that individual. Also, no single taste cell contains receptors for both bitter and sweet tastants.

THE NOSE KNOWS: Our sense of taste is partially enhanced by smell, which is why food may taste bland when we have a cold that blocks the nasal passages. Nerve receptor cells within the nose detect odors carried into the organ by air, and transmit signals to the brain through the olfactory nerve.

The This report has been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Leslie Stein, PhD
Science Communications, Monell Center
(267) 519-4707

Under the Microscope


Studying Tastes and Flavors

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