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The Science Behind Our Love for Coffee Despite its Bitter Taste

Many people cannot start the day without drinking coffee / Photo by: zoomteam via 123rf

 

Many people can't go on with their day or finish their daily tasks without drinking a cup of coffee. Whether you're reading a book, studying for your next school lesson, handling stress at work, or simply taking a rest, coffee might be the best companion. It provides humans with a soothing experience that relaxes our bodies and minds.

Every year, the number of coffee lovers increases. In fact, the United States National Coffee Association's National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) report stated that the number of people drinking coffee has risen by 64%, the highest recorded since 2012. About 82% of people prefer to drink coffee at breakfast, 41% between breakfast and lunch, and 13% in the evening. 

Moreover, the World Coffee Market and Trade predicted that by 2018/2019, the world's coffee production will increase by 11.4 million bags. Indeed, the demand for coffee is getting stronger and stronger while people enjoy the benefits it brings. 

Why People Drink Coffee

In a recent study titled "Understanding the role of bitter taste perception in coffee, tea, and alcohol consumption through Mendelian randomization," researchers explained why people, although highly sensitive to the drink's bitter taste, tend to consume more coffee. 

It is but human nature to dislike bitterness, as it is recognized as a natural warning system to protect the body from harmful substances. However, the study revealed that people who are more sensitive to the bitter taste of caffeine, caused by a genetic variant, consume more coffee than others. It shows that people acquire the ability to appreciate the taste of caffeine. 

Studies revealed that though people do not like the bitter taste, people can distinguish the taste of caffeine / Photo by: warrengoldswain via 123rf

 

To prove their claim, the scientists examined the relationship between bitter taste and beverage consumption in more than 400,000 people in the United Kingdom using a technique commonly used in disease epidemiology called Mendelian randomization. 

Marilyn Cornelis, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, added that people who were highly sensitive to caffeine and consumed coffee a lot drink only small amounts of tea. The findings also showed that people's perception of bitter tastes, which are introduced to us by our genetics, contributes to their preference for coffee, tea, and alcohol.

Drink Coffee for a Longer Life

For the past few years, coffee has been labeled as a carcinogen associated with bladder cancer. But after 25 years, the World Health Organization announced that consuming caffeine actually lower the risks of liver and uterine cancer. This proves that coffee has wellness benefits. Some people believed that coffee can harm one's health but, fortunately, recent studies have proven that it does not.

Drinking coffee will not just provide you with a soothing experience, it also has numerous other health benefits. According to Science Daily, people who consume a cup of coffee every day are less likely to die by 12% compared to those who don't drink this beverage. Coffee-drinkers (specifically those recognized as Japanese-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and white) reportedly also have lower chances of death due to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory and kidney disease. Additionally, one reduces their chances of death by 18% if they consume two or three cups of coffee per day. 

Veronica W. Setiawan, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of California, explained that it's important to determine the association of mortality and coffee consumption to find out the lifestyle patterns and disease risks across racial and ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, previous studies also showed that drinking coffee can lower humans' risk to several types of cancer, diabetes, liver disease, Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

The researchers examined data from 185,855 participants composed of African-American, Native Hawaiians, Japanese-American, Latinos, and whites. These people, aged 45 to 75, answered questionnaires about their lifestyle, diet, and family and personal medical history.

"Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and phenolic compounds that play an important role in cancer prevention. Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this 'elixir effect,' it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle," Setiawan said. Researchers from the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center also found that drinking coffee reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. 

According to One Medical, coffee is also a great source of healthy antioxidants. In fact, there are about 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans and hundreds more are developed during the roasting process. It has also been proven that coffee has more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa. Antioxidants are good from human health because it fights inflammation, arthritis, atherosclerosis, and many types of cancer. 

Caffeine has also been found to provide its drinkers with a short-term memory boost. It can affect parts of the brain responsible for memory and concentration. Coffee also protects people from cognitive decline, by preventing the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s.

Many people are now linking drinking coffee to having long life / Photo by: Erik Reis via 123rf

 

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