How to get out of Brussels Sprouts: A Scientific Guide

by Nathan Smith

It’s Christmas day. Presents? Check. Phoned relatives? Check.  Watch It’s a Wonderful Life? Check. The only thing left is the Christmas dinner; the turkey, the parsnips, the potatoes…and the Brussels sprouts.  You’re not a fan but you’ve always eaten them out of politeness, concealing your looks of disgust behind a glass of wine, but not this year. Starting a New Year’s Resolution early, you’ve sworn that no more Brussels sprouts will touch your lips. But how do you get out of this time-hallowed culinary tradition? The answer: Science.

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Credit: Eric Hunt

For you see, Brussel Sprouts contain large amounts of a chemical similar to PTC (phenylthiocarbamide) and we humans have receptors in our taste buds that detect PTC. It’s encoded by the TAS2R38 gene and translates the presence of PTC into a bitter taste sensation. The best news for sprout haters? It is predicted that up to 70% of the population carries this gene. Now providing no-one in your family has a DNA-testing kit, this alone should guarantee you a sprout-free Christmas. Huzzah!

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