Abstract Title:

Vegetable bitterness is related to calcium content.

Abstract Source:

Appetite. 2009 Apr;52(2):498-504. PMID: 19260165

Abstract Author(s):

Michael G Tordoff, Mari A Sandell

Article Affiliation:

Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. tordoff@monell.org


In the U.S. and Europe, most people do not consume the recommended amounts of either calcium or vegetables. We investigated whether there might be a connection; specifically, whether the taste of calcium in vegetables contributes to their bitterness and thus acceptability. We found a strong correlation between the calcium content of 24 vegetables, based on USDA Nutrient Database values, and bitterness, based on the average ratings of 35 people (r = 0.93). Correlations between the content of other nutrients and bitterness were lower and most were not statistically significant. To assess whether it is feasible that humans can detect calcium in vegetables we tested two animal models known to display a calcium appetite. Previous work indicates that calcium solutions are preferentially ingested by PWK/PhJ mice relative to C57BL/6J mice, and by rats deprived of dietary calcium relative to replete controls. In choice tests between collard greens, a high-calcium vegetable, and cabbage, a low-calcium vegetable, the calcium-favoring animals had higher preferences for collard greens than did controls. These observations raise the possibility that the taste of calcium contributes to the bitterness and thus acceptability of vegetables.

Study Type : Human Study

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