Image courtesy of Men's Health

Still push vegetables off the plate like your 5-year-old nephew? Can't resist those cookies in the office break room? Your taste preferences could predict your future risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a new study in the Journal of Food Science. (Want to build a healthier, stronger ticker? Learn how to Save Your Heart in 5 Steps.)

Researchers examined 196 study participants' diets, then measured each participant's body mass index, waist circumference, and blood pressure. After assessing the participants' taste preferences, the researchers then broke everyone up into four groups: supertasters (those who hate bitter tastes), sweet-likers (people who favor sweets), both, or neither.

Being both a supertaster and sweet-liker was associated with a greater risk of metabolic syndrome--a cluster of risk factors (insulin resistance, extra weight around your middle, high blood pressure) that make you more vulnerable to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes--compared to people who were in either group.

"Research has found that sweet-likers may consume more sweet foods and supertasters avoid vegetables. So if you're both, you may favor unhealthy, sugar foods over wholesome foods like vegetables," says study coauthor Gabrielle Turner-McGrievy, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina. (No need to schedule a brain scan. Click here to find out if Are You a Food Lover or a Food Addict?)

The supertaster and sweet-liker group also consumed less fiber and more calories from drinks (like soda) than the mixed groups--two habits linked to metabolic syndrome.

Interestingly enough, study participants who were neither supertasters nor sweet-likers were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who were in just one group. What gives? Food often tastes bland to this "neither" group, they tend to eat more to feel satisfied, and--without a sweet tooth--they may opt to overdo it on high-calorie foods like meat and cheese, explains Turner-McGrievy.

What taste preference category you fall into largely depends on your genes. How to tell? You're a supertaster if you avoid bitter vegetables (like broccoli), black coffee, and bitter beers (IPAs). You've got a sweet tooth if...heck, you know who you are. (Satisfy your sweet tooth with these healthy indulgences.)

In the future, this finding could provide experts a way to design diets or influence nutrient intake based on your taste type.

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