Study Shows Why We Love Bitter Drinks

One of the biggest factors influencing why most of us choose to consume certain food or drink is of course it’s flavour – we want it to taste nice. Many people enjoy a refreshingly rich, sweet and flavoursome taste, but there’s also plenty of people who favour a bitter taste, especially in drinks.

But why do we gravitate towards these bitter beverages, such as coffee, tea and beer?

Well, a new study published in Human Molecular Genetics has highlighted how our preference for bitter drinks is actually linked to how it makes us feel, rather than how it tastes.

The researchers responsible for the study analysed data on people who drank bitter tasting beverages. They essentially carried on comprehensive tests on each person’s entire genome, and discovered that taste preference was not based on variations in taste genes.

Instead, the data suggested that their preference for the bitter drinks was actually based on genes related to the psychoactive effects of the drinks.

The assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Marilyn Cornelis, stated that the “… genetics underlying our preferences are related to the psychoactive components of these drinks…”

“People like the way coffee and alcohol make them feel. That’s why they drink it. It’s not the taste.”

These findings are certainly intriguing when it comes to thinking about how food and drink makes us feel. It calls into question why exactly we reach for that extra cup of coffee or that glass of grapefruit juice.

It’s clear that the majority of people are after that caffeine-induced energy boost from coffee, as opposed to craving that bitter; harsh, sometimes sour, and often unpleasant taste of roasted coffee beans. Similarly with alcohol, in particular beer, the researchers cited that people consumed it for its calming effects, as opposed to simply enjoying the flavour.

Of course, like everything else, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these beverages in moderation. However, if you’re currently trying to cut back on your caffeine or alcohol consumption to lead a healthier and balanced life; then it’s worth considering other options that may make you feel the same way.

Don’t be afraid to get creative, as there are plenty of nutritious options out there that can leave you feeling great. The next time you find yourself tempted by a quick pint or a hot cup of joe, think about whether you really like the taste, or if it’s just the feeling.

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