Our coffee habits are actually decided by our genes

If you think your coffee consumption is ruled by how much sleep you get, how demanding your job is or how cute your local barista is, you’re not 100 per cent right.

Your three-a-day latte habit – or lack of – is more likely to be based on your genes and your cardiovascular health.

The coffee-loving research team from the University of South Australia have discovered our bodies subtly prevent us from consuming too much caffeine if we’re predisposed to cardio health problems.

Through a world-first study of 390,000 people, the team concluded that people with high blood pressure, angina, and arrythmia were more likely to drink less coffee than those without these markers – and it is all down to genetics.

Lead researcher Elina Hyppönen said it appeared people subconsciously self-regulated safe levels of caffeine, based on their blood pressure levels, a protective move from our genes.

“What this means is that someone who drinks a lot of coffee is likely more genetically tolerant of caffeine, as compared to someone who drinks very little,” Professor Hyppönen said.

“Conversely, a non-coffee drinker, or someone who drinks decaffeinated coffee, is more likely prone to the adverse effects of caffeine, and more susceptible to high blood pressure.”

So what does that mean for your daily brew?

Listen to your body.

These automatic signals are there for a reason, and shouldn’t be ignored, Professor Hyppönen warned.

“Whether we drink a lot of coffee, a little, or avoid caffeine altogether, this study shows that genetics are guiding our decisions to protect our cardio health,” she said.

“If your body is telling you not to drink that extra cup of coffee, there’s likely a reason why. Listen to your body, it’s more in tune with your health than you may think.”

Another cup

The University of South Australia is no stranger to studying the effects of coffee and caffeine on the human body.

Last year, they looked into the effect coffee has on our joints.

In February, they told us that drinking more than six cups of coffee a day can actually increase our risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

When you cross that consumption threshold, the amount of lipids (that’s fat) in your blood increases, elevating your risk of heart disease.

Professor Hyppönen said the cholesterol-elevating compound known as cafestol was found in unfiltered brews like French press, Turkish and Greek coffees, as well as espressos.

(There’s no cafestol in filtered and instant coffee though, so your International Roast is safe.)

“In my opinion it is especially important for people with high cholesterol or who are worried about getting heart disease to carefully choose what type of coffee they drink,” Professor Hyppönen said.

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