Does Our Preference for Coffee or Tea Depend on Our Appreciation for ‘Bitter’ Taste?
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
There is evidence that individual taste preference is associated with tea vs coffee preference but no causal data
Ong et al. (Scientific Reports, 2018) sought to determine whether perception of bitter substances is causally associated with intake of coffee, tea and alcohol
Mendelian randomization analyses of genetic variants associated with the perception of bitter substances
‘Mendelian randomization’ is a technique that assesses genetic variants that impact pathways
Mendelian randomization can be used to assess causation because genetic variants are random events at the time of conception, not likely to be impacted by biases that may be seen in observational studies
Genetic variants are associated with taste preferences
Rs1726866 for propylthiouracil [PROP]
Rs10772420 for quinine
Rs2597979 for caffeine
Information of coffee, tea and alcohol consumption was recorded
438,870 participants were included
Higher perceived intensity of bitter compounds, PROP and quinine, decreased coffee consumption
Higher perceived intensity of bitter compound caffeine increased coffee consumption
Higher caffeine perception associated with increased risk of being a heavy (>4 cups/day) coffee drinker (OR 1.207 [95% CI, 1.126, 1.294])
Opposite relationships to the above
Higher predicted intensity of PROP resulted in lower consumption of alcohol
Perception of quinine and caffeine did not impact alcohol consumption
Bitter perception appears to be causally associated with intake of coffee, tea and alcohol
Results suggest that there is genetic preference related to perception of bitter taste for tea, coffee and alcohol
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