The Americans like coffee and doughnuts for breakfast. Here in the UK, we prefer to keep our caffeine-and-sugar for coffee break time. Now, a new study in the The Journal of Food Science has produced evidence to explain why coffee and sugar is such a popular combination.
The research suggests that caffeine could decrease your sensitivity to sweet tastes and alter your perceived sense of taste, meaning that after a cup of coffee you’re more likely to want sugary foods.
The research involved asking two sets of volunteers to ‘blind taste’ either decaffeinated or regular caffeinated coffee, and add sugar to the drink they’d been given. The participants who drank sugared caffeinated coffee considered it to taste less sweet than those who drank decaf. The next step was to ask people to guess whether they were drinking caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee by considering their state of mental alertness. All the members of the group said they felt as though they’d received a boost in their mental state and not many were able to correctly guess which drink they’d had.
Our brains contain a chemical called adenosine, which helps us switch off our alertness and go to sleep at night. Caffeine helps suppress the adenosine receptors and fools us into thinking we feel more alert.
The artificial caffeine boost is a temporary one, as is the effect that caffeine has on our tastebuds. That doesn’t stop us reaching for the cake to go with our coffee, though – and now we know there’s a scientific explanation to back us up!
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