What do genes tell about black coffee and chocolate?
Last Updated on January 30, 2022 by Joseph Gut – thasso
January 30, 2022 – This was retrospectively seen information just in time for the holiday season. A new study in Scientific Reports on December 13 2021 comforts people who like to eat lots of black chocolate and to drink their coffee black too. These individuals do not need to worry; they are innocent for their habit. It is in their genes. And people who like to drink their coffee black also prefer to eat dark chocolate.
Scientists have found coffee drinkers who have a genetic variant that reflects a faster metabolism of caffeine prefer bitter, black coffee. And the same genetic variant is found in people who preferred the more bitter dark chocolate over the more mellow milk chocolate.The reason was not because they love the taste, but rather because they associate the bitter flavor with the boost in mental alertness they expect from caffein
That is interesting because these gene variants are related to faster metabolism of caffeine and are not related to taste,” stated lead study author Marilyn Cornelis. She indicates that these individuals metabolize caffeine faster, so the stimulating effects wear off faster as well. So, they need to drink more. These people seem to equate caffeine’s natural bitterness with a psycho-stimulation effect. Seemingly, they learn to associate bitterness with caffeine and the boost they feel, giving rise to a learned effect. When they think of caffeine, they think of a bitter taste, so they enjoy dark coffee and, likewise, dark chocolate.
Why does this matter? First, because often people feel bad about their habit of drinking lots and lots of dark coffee and eat lots and lots of dark chocolate. Second: The dark chocolate connection may be related to the fact that dark chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine but predominantly theobromine, a caffeine-related compound, meaning a psychostimulant. And last but not least, in a many studies, coffee and dark chocolate consumption have been shown to lower the risk of certain diseases. In fact, moderate coffee consumption seems to lower the risk of Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer. Dark chocolate appears to lower the risk of heart disease. Thus, in this case, a seemingly bad habit may mostly unknowingly turn into an health advantage for the affected individual.
Currently, when scientists study the health benefits of coffee and dark chocolate, they must rely on epidemiological studies, which only confer an association with health benefits rather than a stronger causal link. Nevertheless, genetic variants in ADORA2A, CYP1A2, CYP2A6, AHR and, to a weaker extent, POR associated with higher coffee intake and liking and were also associated with increased dark chocolate intake and liking. No association or associations in the opposite direction were observed with liking and intake of milk chocolate and other bitter foods, suggesting that caffeine (be it its psychostimulant effect, taste, or both) may be underlying the observed associations with dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains more caffeine per weight than milk chocolate and while the amount is still less than the content in coffee, it may be detected by individuals sensitive to caffeine. Dark chocolate is also a unique source of the afore mentioned theobromine, another methylxanthine with psychostimulant effects
This new research shows these genetic variants can be used more precisely to study the relationship between coffee and health benefits. Previously, scientists were using the genetic markers for coffee drinkers in general. The new findings suggest they are stronger markers for particular types of coffee drinkers, i.e., black coffee drinkers. This impacts the interpretation of these genetic studies of coffee and health.
Overall, the person who wants black coffee is different from a person who wants coffee with cream and sugar. Based on the stud findings, the person who drinks black coffee also prefers other bitter foods like dark chocolate. As a result, researchers can now drill down into a more precise way to measure the actual health benefits of this beverage and other food. The current study used genetic, dietary and food preference data available from the UK Biobank and two U.S. cohorts, the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up study.
See here a short sequence about eating dark chocolate: