They say you should take the bitter with the sweet. But if you’re not a big fan of bitter, chemists have just the loophole for you. Oh, you’ll still have to take the bitter. But you won’t have to taste it. Because scientists have concocted a new and improved “bitter blocker.” They touted their triumph at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society. [Ioana Ungureanu et al., "Discovery of a new generation of highly potent bitterness blockers"]
Our taste buds allow us to detect sweet and sour, salty and savory, and, of course, bitter. Of that set of taste sensations, bitterness, most agree, is the most disagreeable. And we can thank (or blame) evolution. We likely find bitter bad because many toxic substances are bitter. So an aversion to bitter may have helped our ancestors survive.
Problem is, plenty of healthful foods are bitter, too. Take broccoli and kale. (Please.) The standard solution, drowning out the bitter with butter, sort of cancels out the veggies’ health food status.
Rather than getting rid of the bitter, chemists came up with a compound that simply blocks our receptors for the bitter molecules, and our ability to taste them. So you may not need that spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. Or the broccoli.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]