ADVERTISEMENT

Tea or Coffee? Let Your Genes Decide

Preferences for tea and coffee are determined by genetic sensitivity towards bitterness. 

Updated
Fit
2 min read
Tea or Coffee? Let Your Genes Decide
i

Are you a tea or coffee person? The answer may lie in your genetic predisposition towards bitter tastes, say researchers. The reason for this might be that bitterness acts as a natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances.

The study, led by researchers from US-based Northwestern University, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia, explored reactions to three bitter substances -- caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil (PROP) -- to understand how they affect people's preference for drinking tea, coffee and alcohol.

ADVERTISEMENT

The findings showed that people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

In other words, people who have a heightened ability to taste coffee's bitterness -- and particularly the distinct bitter flavour of caffeine -- learn to associate "good things with it".

Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said,

You’d expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee. The opposite results of our study suggest coffee consumers acquire a taste or an ability to detect caffeine due to the learned positive reinforcement (stimulation) elicited by caffeine.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, also found that people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP -- a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables -- avoid coffee.

For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine.

"The findings suggest our perception of bitter tastes, informed by our genetics, contributes to the preference for coffee, tea and alcohol," Cornelis said.

Scientists applied Mendelian randomisation -- a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology -- to test the causal relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 4,00,000 men and women in the UK.

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Quint Insider
25
100
200

or more

PREMIUM

3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Insider Benefits
ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT
×
×