Coffee may increase cravings for sweet treats

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a cup of coffee and a slice of cake
Research suggests that caffeine may dampen our ability to taste sweet foods, increasing our preference for them.
If your commute to work involves a stop at the coffee shop, be cautious – you might be tempted to pick up a sweet treat, too.

Researchers have found that caffeine – the key stimulant in coffee – dulls our ability to taste sweet food and drinks, which may actually increase our desire for them.

What is more, the team found that simply the action of drinking coffee – regardless of whether the beverage is caffeinated – may increase alertness.

Senior study author Robin Dando, of the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and colleagues recently reported their results in the Journal of Food Science.

Coffee is undoubtedly one of the America’s favorite beverages. Around 54 percent of us drink coffee on a daily basis, and as a nation, we spend around $40 billion on the beverage annually.

Given the potential health benefits of coffee consumption, it is no wonder we can’t seem to get enough. A study reported by Medical News Today earlier this year, for example, linked daily coffee intake with reduced risk of liver cancer, while more recent research found that the beverage could help us live longer.

The new study from Dando and colleagues, however, suggests that we should be cautious of what we are eating alongside our cup of joe, as the beverage may increase our preference for sugary treats.

Caffeine reduced sweet taste perception

The researchers came to their findings by enrolling 107 adults and randomly assigning them to one of two groups.

One group consumed coffee containing 200 milligrams of caffeine – the equivalent of a strong cup of coffee – while the other group consumed decaffeinated coffee supplemented with quinine, making it taste just as bitter as the caffeinated coffee. Both groups had sugar added to their beverage.

Participants were unaware of which type of coffee they were drinking.

 

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