Genetic variation in bitter taste and plasma markers of anti-oxidant status in college women

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 2:35-45. doi: 10.1080/09637480802304499. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


Genetic taste sensitivity to the bitterness of 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) is a potential marker for food selection. Compared with non-tasters, PROP tasters, especially super-tasters, are less accepting of cruciferous and other green vegetables, bitter citrus, added fats and chili pepper. If super-tasters avoid these foods, it may be hypothesized that they would have lower plasma antioxidant concentrations. Ninety-three healthy, non-smoking college women who did not use vitamins/supplements were classified by PROP-taster status using the paper disk method. Each participant provided a fasting blood sample that was assayed for vitamin C, beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene, uric acid and total peroxyl-trapping antioxidant capacity. Plasma alpha-tocopherol was lower in super-tasters than in non-tasters (P<0.05), but no other indices differed among the groups. These findings suggest that PROP status does not associate with overall antioxidant status, but may be related to alpha-tocopherol intake derived principally from vegetable oils and green vegetables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Brassicaceae / chemistry
  • Capsicum / chemistry
  • Citrus / chemistry
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Propylthiouracil
  • Students
  • Taste / genetics*
  • Taste / physiology
  • Taste Perception / genetics*
  • Vegetables / chemistry
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Tocopherol / administration & dosage
  • alpha-Tocopherol / blood*


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Fats
  • Propylthiouracil
  • alpha-Tocopherol