And at what age do people start liking “grown-up” foods?   

By Corey Williams
September 05, 2019
Chris Tobin/Getty Images

Ever get frustrated by kids who are picky eaters? Don’t blame them—blame their taste buds. 

When—and How Often—Do Your Taste Buds Change? 

Babies have about 30,000 taste buds that regenerate approximately every two weeks.

We’re born with innate cravings for things that will help us survive and thrive, like the sweetness of a mother’s milk.  

As we grow older, though, we lose a lot of those taste buds. By the time we’re adults, we’re left with only about 10,000. 

Though the average adult’s taste buds still regenerate every couple weeks, they may find certain foods less overpowering than they once did. 

Related: 5 Back-to-School Lunches for Picky Eaters

So when, exactly, does this transition happen? The magic age is apparently 22. 

For a 2015 study, U.K.-based researchers asked approximately 2,000 adults when they started liking strong-tasting foods like pickles, garlic, spinach, oysters, asparagus, and horseradish. Most people didn’t enjoy these “grown-up” foods until their early 20s. 

While culture and environmental factors can certainly influence when you begin to develop an appreciation for certain flavors, it makes sense that the amount of taste buds in your mouth can directly affect which foods you like. 

If you’re curious, here’s the full list of pungent foods and at what age the study’s participants began to enjoy them:

  • Garlic: 19
  • Pickles: 19
  • Curry: 20
  • Kidney beans: 20
  • Mackerel: 20
  • Spinach: 21
  • Peppers: 21
  • Eggplant: 21
  • Horseradish: 21
  • Mussels: 21
  • Parmesan: 21
  • Blue cheese: 22
  • Anchovies: 22
  • Avocado: 23
  • Asparagus: 23
  • Chili sauce: 24
  • Oysters: 24
  • Brie: 24
  • Olives: 25
  • Goat cheese: 28
Advertisement