The Genes in Your Coffee (and Cancer-Protective Compounds)

Quick: what do tea, chocolate and coffee all have in common? There’s actually a lot they share – including many cancer-protective compounds – but for all who answered caffeine, that’s the big one.CoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_blog

Now a research team has sequenced a draft of the genome of the coffee plant, finding that the caffeine compound has probably evolved independently of tea or chocolate. The researchers sequenced the plant Coffea canephora, which reportedly accounts for almost a third of the world’s coffee production.

The study was published on Friday in Science.

In all, the scientists identified about 25,000 protein-producing genes in the plant. (Humans have approximately 21,000 genes.) When they compared the coffee genome to the DNA of tea and chocolate they found coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

Compared to the grape and tomato, the coffee plant contains larger families of genes that relate to the production of flavonoid and other compounds, which contribute to the smell of coffee and are studied for their health benefits. Continue reading


3 Staples for Last-Minute Healthy Meals

With summer unofficially ending soon, its back to hectic work and school weeks for many. And sometimes it’s challenging to plan out your meals for the entire week. Or you get home late, tired and realize cereal or ordering pizza is the easiest option. black beans macro

We’ve all been there, and I’ve found the best way to avoid this is by keeping a few healthy foods in my kitchen at all times that I can easily make into a more nutritious, cancer-protective meal. My staples aren’t always the same – what I have usually depends on the time of year or recent recipes I’ve tried. Right now, here are three of my staples:

1. Can of no-salt beans (garbanzo or black beans, usually) – Beans are a good source of protein and fiber and low in fat. They are also inexpensive and you don’t have to worry about them spoiling quickly. Use the beans on a salad or in place of meat in something like tacos.

2. Spinach – This is a good source of fiber and cancer-protective carotenoids. The nice thing about this leafy green is that you can eat it in a variety of ways – for instance, you can sauté it with a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice or you can use it as your greens in a salad. If you find it starting to wilt, just cook it up! Continue reading


Chill Out with Fruit Soup

fruit-soup croppedFor a refreshing and healthy change, try ourHealth-e-Recipe for Chilled Fruit Soup with Berries.

Six kinds of fruit go into this slightly tropical tasting soup. First, cubed cantaloupe and both fresh and frozen strawberries and blended together with apples into a delicious pink colored liquid with a touch of lemon juice and sugar. Cantaloupe contains beta-carotene and strawberries supply you with vitamin C, while apples are a good source of cancer-fighting compounds like flavonoids.

Then fresh raspberries and blueberries decorate the soup, adding their own protective compounds of ellagic acid and anthocyanins. With only 140 calories per serving, you get 5 grams of fiber and a winning soup or smoothie to sip. If you refrigerate any leftover soup and it separates, just stir it up before serving a second time.

Find more delicious cancer-preventive recipes at the AICR Test Kitchen. Subscribe to our weekly Health-e-Recipes.