Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, second only to tea! It is sometimes controversial due to its caffeine content.
Large, population-wide studies have shown many benefits of coffee consumption including decreasing the risks of heart disease, endometrial cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, cirrhosis, prostate cancer, and stroke. But large population studies often miss an individual’s reaction to a substance (see Vitamin E, Genetics, and Inflammation), and coffee’s benefits can vary based on your genes.
Antioxidants in Coffe
Coffee is actually the “number one source of antioxidants in the U.S diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Stanton”.[ref] In brewed coffee, there are several micronutrients, including potassium, magnesium, and niacin, available in somewhat significant levels, but variations in soil nutrients, processing, and brewing do make a difference in the micronutrient levels per cup.[ref]
Caffeine is metabolized in the liver by the CYP1A2 enzyme (coded for by the CYP1A2 gene). Slow metabolizers of caffeine – CYP1A2*1F (rs762551 AC or CC) – might have a slightly increased risk of heart attack when drinking more than 2 cups of coffee per day. Fast metabolizers (AA) may have a decreased risk of heart attack with coffee consumption, with heavy coffee drinkers shown to have a significantly decreased risk that is about 70% less than average. In European Caucasians, the population split between fast and slow metabolizers is about even.[ref][ref] The studies on this aren’t entirely clear, with some showing a risk and others not finding a risk. [ref]
Check your 23andMe results for rs762551:
- CC: Slow metabolizer of caffeine, possibly higher risk of heart attack with more than 4 cups of coffee per day
- AC: Slow metabolizer of caffeine, possibly higher risk of heart attack with more than 4 cups of coffee per day
- AA: Fast metabolizer of caffeine, lower risk of heart attack with heavy coffee consumption
Changes to the adenosine A2A receptor gene (ADORA2A) also gives rise to variation in how we respond to caffeine. One thing that caffeine does in the body is to block adenosine receptors, which are believed to play a role in promoting sleep. Changes in the way the adenosine receptor functions, due to a genetic polymorphism, can alter a person’s response to caffeine. [ref]
- CC: no increase in anxiety from caffeine (avg.)
- TT: high caffeine dose more likely to make you anxious [ref]
For those with a BRCA1 mutation, one study found that coffee consumption before age 35 for those with the C-allele reduced their risk of breast cancer by 64%.[ref]
So what type of coffee should you drink to increase antioxidants? One recent study showed that the lighter roasts have a higher antioxidant content. Lighter roasts also increased intercellular glutathione concentrations better than darker roasts.
Hate coffee? There may be genetics involved in that also. Check out this article on bitter taste receptors.
Looking for a way to pep up your morning coffee? Here are a couple of options:
Add Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushroom extracts with cognitive benefits (my new favorite!):
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