The next time you’re taking a long list of orders for coffee, and you start shaking your head at everyone’s distinct preferences, you can take heart that it’s not because they want to make it hard on you. They probably don’t even know they’re doing it, but coffee preferences are genetic.
This newfound knowledge comes to us from the University of South Australia. In a study which found that coffee preferences are largely influenced from cardiovascular genetics, researchers found that your coffee preference is actually a window into your cardiovascular health.
Coffee tends to elicit a lot of cardiovascular activity because of the caffeine and is well known for giving some people a feeling of jitteriness, often accompanied with a fast heart rate. The newest research on this topic points to a self-protective measure that most people use when it comes to their coffee consumption, and that’s through paying attention to cardiovascular cues that they get while drinking coffee.
Across a study of almost 400,000 people, researchers determined that people with a history of high blood pressure, angina, or irregular heart rhythms (palpitations or arrythmia) in themselves or family avoided or minimized coffee drinking. The people who drank the most coffee had the better cardiovascular health and healthier cardio history in their families.
Since there are many people who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, it’s likely showing that sensitive groups who avoid coffee are doing so out of their own intuition, rather than guidance from a physician. The university research team believes that it’s a self-protective measure when the heart sends the message that you shouldn’t have another cup (or sometimes one at all) because there is something in the genetic code which is quite literally instructing you to be more careful around coffee.
If coffee starts wreaking havoc on your heart rate out of the blue, or has done so for quite some time, discuss it with your doctor. It may be an early warning sign you shouldn't ignore.
Elina Hyppönen, Ang Zhou. Cardiovascular symptoms affect the patterns of habitual coffee consumption. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab014