It’s becoming increasingly difficult to consider caffeine a vice with everything we now know about the multifaceted benefits linked to habitual coffee consumption.
From longevity to a healthy gut microbe to curbing obesity and preventing dementia, java is an undeniable contender in new-age diet science. This isn’t to suggest that all of its rewards are tangled up in dense medical literature about diseases and mortality rates.
In fact, a new study conducted by researchers at Aarhus University concludes that a single couple of coffee dramatically enhances our sensitivity to sweetness and diminishes our sensitivity to bitterness.
“Chemosensory sensitivity has great variation between individuals. This variation complicates the chemosensory diagnostics, as well as the creation of a meal with universally high hedonic value. To ensure accurate characterization of chemosensory function, a common rule of thumb is to avoid food/beverages one hour before chemosensory testing. However, the scientific foundation of this time of fast remains unclear,” the authors of the new paper write. “Our findings provide the first evidence of how coffee impacts short-term taste sensitivity and consequently the way we sense and perceive food following coffee intake-an an important insight in the context of gastronomy, as well as in chemosensory testing procedures.”
Short-Term Effects on Gustatory and Olfactory Sensitivity
The researchers began with a study pool consisting of 156 test subjects.
Each had their sense of smell and taste analyzed before and after being administered a single cup of caffeinated coffee. Although there were no observable alterations to their sense of smell after coffee consumption, the subjects’ sense of taste was profoundly affected.
Via self-reports, the respondents reacted more readily to sweet substances while being less attuned to bitter ones. Caffeine didn’t seem to be influencing these outcomes, considering they were successfully replicated after the researchers supplied participants with decaffeinated coffee.
“It’s probably some of the bitter substances in the coffee that create this effect. This may explain that if you enjoy a piece of dark chocolate with your coffee, it’s taste is much milder, because the bitterness is downplayed and the sweetness is enhanced, “says study author, Alexander Wieck Fjældstad. “We already know that our senses have an effect on each other, but it’s a surprise that our registration of sweetness and bitterness is so easily influenced.”
Uncovering the intricate dynamics that different dietary agents share with another opens avenues for other important fields of research.
There are a host of foods confirmed to be conducive to healthy aging and development that might be consumed more frequently if paired with tempering elements.
Coffee compliments powerful sources of protein like nuts and almonds perfectly, just as a glass of grapefruit juice extends the half-life of caffeine.
“More research in this area could have significance for how we regulate the way in which we use sugar and sweeteners as food additives. Improved knowledge can potentially be utilized to reduce sugar and calories in our food, which would be beneficial for a number of groups, including those who are overweight and diabetes patients,” Wieck Fjældstad explains.