Why You Prefer Sweet or Salty Food

For me, there is no question that I have a serious sweet tooth. I have always loved chocolate, cake, all types of candy and ice cream. While I definitely have my moments of craving chips or pizza, my sweet tooth outweighs my salty cravings. If you’re not sure which one you prefer more, click here to find out.

So why do you prefer one over the other? According to this article, everyone contains a specific combination of genes that determines how our taste buds perceive flavor.  People who have a sweet tooth contain certain DNA in taste receptors which are found in the intestines and on the tongue. People who have more taste buds may prefer salty foods. Studies have also shown that babies who were born premature with low sodium levels might grow up wanting salty foods.

According to this article, the flavors that we are first exposed to in the womb are often the ones we crave as adults. The article also explains that DNA is not the only factor that influences the flavors we prefer. It says that we grow up associating foods and flavors with childhood memories and experiences with specific foods. For example, if your dad always gave you lollipops when you were younger, you might associate that sweetness with love, forcing you to always remember and want that flavor.

While we always hear of people with a strong sweet tooth, craving salty foods often goes under the radar. However, there is an interesting explanation (with a reference to Penn State) for why people crave salty foods. People who would rather snack on chips and pretzels than cupcakes and ice cream are called “supertasters.” Supertasters contain a unique genetic makeup that elevates their taste perception. This means that the flavors they taste are stronger than how most people perceive them. Supertasters are also sensitive to bitterness, and salt tones down the bitter flavor, making supertasters want more salt.

Whether you have a strong sweet tooth or you’re a supertaster, there are plenty of explanations to explain why you are what you are. Now go grab your favorite snack and if you haven’t already, take the quiz linked above to find out if you have a sweet tooth or prefer salty foods!

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5 thoughts on “Why You Prefer Sweet or Salty Food

  1. Amanda Strassler

    Very cool article! I think it’s really interesting how our taste buds can almost be compared to nature versus nurture! You bring up great points about how some of our taste preferences are coded in our DNA while other factors, like what we ate when we were young, also contribute to preference. Here is another article by Smithsonian that talks about the genetics of our taste buds.

  2. Eric Robert Kisner

    I think that the psychological aspect of this is fascinating. I personally remember my grandmother and the sweets she always used to keep at her house, which I’d gobble up like a fiend most of the time. Today, I have the same affinity for sweet foods, and while I love salty foods, the sweet ones always win when it comes down to it. I also found it fascinating that the tastes we experience in the womb are the ones that we become attached to as children and adults. I’d heard of the “supertaster” concept prior to this, so I’ve included a link to a video that shows a test to determine whether someone is a supertaster or not.

  3. mjp5837

    Really interesting! Both of my roommates always crave salty foods and I’m always the one who craves chocolate or something else really sweet. However, according to your article premature babies usually tend to crave saltier things. I was born over a month early and while I love chips and pretzels…chocolate always wins for me!

  4. Kassidy Schupp

    Interesting topic! But I can’t declare myself as either a sweet or salty person. I like both! After I have something sweet, I almost always want something salty, or vice versa. I tried those sweet and salty Nature Valley granola bars but to me they are always more sweet than they are salty, so I end up eating pretzels or chips or something after 🙂

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