Growing up, my sister liked to eat the salt that gathers at the bottom of bags of pretzels. She still craves salty foods, and so does her 3-year-old son. On the other hand, I’ve had a lifelong sweet tooth, like our dad.
My family’s sweet and salty food cravings raise a curious question: Could genetics play a role in our flavor preferences? A growing body of research suggests a possible link.
Nanette Steinle, a University of Maryland School of Medicine associate professor of medicine and endocrinology and the diabetes section chief at the Maryland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, has studied the relationship of genetics with taste preferences and food choices.“
There are specific receptors that regulate salt taste versus sugar taste,” she said. “There aren’t large, robust studies looking at this question, but for those that are available, we do suspect that there could be a genetic component for preferences for salt, bitter, sweet.”