Researchers out of the Riken Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS) and Osaka University made the recent discovery after studying 160,000 people's food preferences.

By Nashia Baker
March 06, 2020

Is your go-to hot drink tea instead of coffee? Odds are that your genes are influencing your preference. A new study published in the Nature Human Behavior journal put this theory to the test, CNN reports. The researchers from the Riken Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS) and Osaka University in Japan found genetic connections to 13 dietary habits, such as people's consumption of food and drinks. "We know that what we eat defines what we are, but we found that what we are also defines what we eat," Yukinori Okada, Senior Visiting Scientist at Riken IMS and professor at Osaka University, said.

pouring tea in tea cup
Credit: Getty / YuriF

The team of researchers gathered their findings after studying the genetic makeup and food preferences of over 160,000 participants. Genetic connections started with specific types of food and drinks: coffee, tea, alcohol, yogurt, cheese, natto, tofu, fish, vegetables, and meat. A unique point found that participants who ate more fish and vegetables had a genetic framework that made them less interested in savory tastes.

According to Dr. José Ordovás, Director of Nutrition and Genomics at Tufts University in Massachusetts, more research into factors like income, eating location, and the eating habits of our family members are important next steps in the study on food preferences. "Previous studies have been looking at genes that were associating with higher protein intake or higher fat intake or higher carbohydrate intake," he said. "But this study is more aligned with the fact that people eat foods. They don't just eat proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. People tend to eat within a specific pattern."

Okada also noted that more research and "estimating individual differences in dietary habits from genetics, especially the 'risk' of being an alcohol drinker, we can help create a healthier society."


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