Live Science: Why Do Our Flavor Preferences Change Over Time?

A toddler may pull a face of pure disgust upon tasting spinach for the first time, but eventually, that same child can grow to tolerate the vegetable and eventually — gasp! — even like it. And even after childhood, a person’s flavor preferences can continue to evolve. The question is, how does that happen?

Our flavor preferences are shaped by many factors, including our genetics, our mothers’ diets during pregnancy and our nutritional needs in childhood, said Julie Mennella, a biopsychologist and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. But our biology doesn’t dictate which foods we come to adore or despise over time. Rather, our preferences are quite malleable, or “plastic,” and change depending on which flavors we get exposed to, when, how often and in what contexts, she said.

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