Whether we are tea or coffee drinkers likely decided by genes

A paper published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports found that people who are genetically predisposed to like more bitter tastes typically choose coffee due to its higher content of tart caffeine

A paper published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports found that people who are genetically predisposed to like more bitter tastes typically choose coffee due to its higher content of tart caffeine. This sensitivity is not only limited to taste but preferably is affected by an individual's inherited make up.

"You'd expect that people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine would drink less coffee", Marilyn Cornelis, an author of the study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement.

You might be a coffee lover, but you can't deny that the beverage has a bitter taste to it. Bitterness is natural warning system to protect us from harmful substances, so we really shouldn't like coffee.

The study also found people sensitive to the bitter flavours of quinine and of PROP, a synthetic taste related to the compounds in cruciferous vegetables, avoided coffee.

For the study, an worldwide team of scientists investigated how people perceived three bitter substances (caffeine, quinine and propylthiouracil or PROP)-something that is determined by the presence of certain genes, according to previous research. The degree of bitterness of these depends on the genes. But a genetic variant explains why so many people love the brew, a new study suggests.

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Sonia is a postgraduate of Mass Communication but her interest lies in writing. For alcohol, a higher sensitivity to the bitterness of PROP resulted in lower alcohol consumption, particularly of red wine. In past studies, researchers have identified three genetic variants associated with bitter taste perception: rs2597979 for caffeine, rs1726866 for propylthiouracil (PROP), and rs10772420 for quinine. This latter molecule has the same bitterness as Brussels sprouts (for those of us who can taste it).

In this study population, people who were more sensitive to caffeine and were drinking a lot of coffee consumed low amounts of tea.

Researchers said the findings for tea were harder to explain but might in part be down to heavy coffee drinkers tending to be very light tea drinkers. The next step in the research was to find out if these people drink more or less coffee than the ones who do not have any sensitivity. Essentially, whether someone is a coffee drinker or a tea drinker might be linked with the presence or absence of key genes that shape how bitter flavors taste.

But we can't blame everything on your genes.

People on either end of the coffee spectrum might think of the other, are you seriously tasting what I'm tasting? Even if as a child or right now you dislike the bitterness of coffee or tea, you may have noticed that your taste and dietary behaviour change over time as you grow. Read the original article.

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