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The cravings we experience for our favorite snacks may have more to do with biology than previously thought. Depending on the number of taste receptors you were born with, you may be more or less sensitive to the bitterness of vegetables, the heat of chili peppers or the texture of fat and foods you crave and foods you avoid are decided by physiology before personality.

Dr. Linda Bartoshuk of Yale University studies taste and says that supertasters, those born with a high number of taste buds, live in a “neon taste world” while non-tasters live in a “pastel” world. The intense bitterness of vegetables and sweetness of what might be your favorite dessert can be repulsive to those with a heightened sense of taste. These variations in our population have an effect on the foods we choose and on our general health.

Bartoshuk is studying the effects of upper respiratory infections on taste. Chronic ear infections can affect a person’s sensitivity to fat and have direct effects on the amount of fat consumed and the weight of those afflicted. In men, the increased sensitivity to fat seems to increase consumption, while the opposite seems to be true in women.

While our tastes may vary, there have been evolutionary advantages and disadvantages to steering clear of what tastes bad while indulging our cravings.