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


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.


A Tempting Cauliflower Treat

cauliflower-x2172 cropped2Crunchy, cool and cancer-preventive, our Health-e-Recipe for Cool Cauliflower Salad is low in calories and abundant with flavor.

Just because cauliflower is white and not green, like its cruciferous relative broccoli, doesn’t mean it’s lacking in powerful phytochemicals that may help ward off cancer. Along with cauliflower and broccoli, cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, collard greens, radishes, parsley and watercress.

At 50 calories a serving, this tasty salad can also be a heartily portioned snack. Vegetables are naturally low in calorie density and high in fiber and water. That means they fill you up for not too many calories, compared to equal amounts of high calorie-dense foods that have lots of fat and sugar. That’s why eating a mostly plant-based diet of minimally processed foods can help keep off extra pounds while giving you protection from plenty of cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

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