Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Do you prefer coffee or tea? The answer to that question might in part be down to your genes, learned from research suggests.


Scientists say a genetic predisposition to perceiving the bitterness of particular substances appears to nudge us towards one beverage or the other.


Dr Marilyn Cornelis, co-author of the research from Northwestern University in Illinois, said: “The study adds to our understanding of factors determining beverage preferences – taste, in particular – and why, holding all other factors constant, we still see marked between-person differences in beverage preference as well as the amount we consume.”

这项研究来自美国伊利诺伊州的西北大学,其中的联合作者Marilyn Cornelis博士说:“这项研究让我们对饮料偏好的理解又深了一步,尤其是在口味方面,它同时还解释了为什么会有这样的差异;在所有其他变量控制不变的前提下,我们依然发现饮料偏好和饮用量在人与人之间有明显的差异。”

Chinese people love tea, while westerners drink a lot of coffee. The study, published in the Scientific Reports journal, involved two sets of data. The first was a large twin study which showed that, at least in those of European ancestry, particular genetic variants are linked to the strength of perception of different tastes:

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one specific variant was associated with slightly higher ratings of bitterness for caffeine, another to greater bitterness for quinine and a third to greater bitterness for a drug known as prophylactic, or prop.


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The team found people with a greater genetic predisposition to perceiving the bitterness of caffeine drank a little more coffee, but an increased perception of the bitterness of quinine and prop were linked to a small reduction in coffee drinking.


“While the effect of perception on your daily coffee intake might be relatively small – only a 0.15 cup per day increase – from a normal caffeine taster to a strong caffeine taster, it actually makes you 20% more likely to become a heavy drinker – drinking more than four cups per day,” said Jue Sheng Ong, first author of the research.

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研究的第一作者Jue Sheng Ong说:“虽然这种感知的差异对你每天咖啡饮用量的影响比较小,重口者只比轻口者多0.15杯,但它却让你有20%更高的几率成为重度饮用者;这里的重度饮用指的是一天喝咖啡超过4杯。”

The team also found that greater perception of the bitterness of prop was linked to a lower chance of being a heavy drinker of alcohol.


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