PARIS, France – In new research studying how genetic factors determine taste, researchers now think they know why some people prefer coffee while others choose tea.
A paper published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports found that people who are genetically prone to enjoying more bitter taste usually taste coffee because of its higher content of cake caffeine.
But, more important for tea drinkers everywhere, it does not make them right.
When people developed, we developed the capacity to detect bitterness as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances.
Evolutionarily, we would like to spit the Americans right down the sink.
However, participants in the trial that were more genetically sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine were more likely to prefer coffee to tea, and more likely to drink more of it.
"One can expect people who are particularly sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine to drink less coffee," said Marilyn Cornelis, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
"The opposite results of our study suggest that coffee consumers get a taste or ability to detect caffeine because of the learned positive boost induced by caffeine."
So individuals who are genetically preprogrammed to think that the bitterness of coffee learns to associate "good things with it," says Cornelis.
In the survey of more than 400,000 men and women in the United Kingdom, researchers also found that people who are sensitive to the chin's bitter tastes and a taste related to vegetable compounds are more likely to avoid coffee in favor of its sweeter counterpart, tea.
Liang-Dar Hwang from the Diamantina Institute of University of Queensland, who wrote with the study, told AFP that the fact that some people prefer coffee showed how everyday experiences can interfere with genetic trends in terms of taste.
"Bitter taste perceptions are shaped not only by genetics but also environmental factors," he said.
"Although people of course do not like bitterness, we can learn to enjoy or enjoy bitter tasting food after being exposed to environmental factors."
Although coffee lovers essentially defy development, there is another possible benefit to enjoying your latte.
Hwang said that coffee drinkers were genetically less sensitive to bitterness than soft drinks, making them "less likely to hate other bitter foods" like green vegetables. / cbb
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