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Taste Buds Not So Sweet on Caffeine

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Caffeine may suppress taste of sweet foods

So many of us start our day with a hot cup of caffeinated coffee, it wakes us up, warms us up and gives us an energy boost- or does it?  A study published in Journal of Food Science found that participants reported the same levels of alertness after consuming either regular or decaf coffee suggesting that there may be a placebo effect to the simple morning ritual of enjoying a cup of coffee.  They also observed that caffeinated drinkers rated their beverage as tasting less sweet over decaf. 

The blinded study included 107 participants, divided into two groups.  Upon each visit to the lab, groups sampled decaf coffee supplemented either with 200mg caffeine or a bit of quinine to provide a bitter property equal to caffeinated brew.  Both groups had added sugar.    

Remarkably, panelists who drank the caffeinated version, ranked their beverage as less sweet, despite both samples containing the same amount of sweetener.  They also rated their energy levels on an alertness scale where they reported the same increase in alertness after trying both samples!  Reaction time and hunger were also measured without significant differences. 

Caffeine interferes with adenosine receptors which are known to make us feel sleepy and relaxed.  When the receptors are blocked, we have a feeling of alertness and a decreased ability to distinguish sweetness.  You could look at this another way, for example, if you take too lumps in your coffee; you could switch to decaf and eliminate some of those added sugars!  And not to worry, because this study demonstrated a strong placebo effect to coffee whereby the flavor and aroma produce feelings of alertness, you won’t miss out on your morning pick me up!

Whether you’re enjoying decaf or regular coffee, we think you should give our Crumble Coffee Cake Squares a try!

Published November 1, 2017

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