Study finds that coffee can change sensitivity to sweetness
The researchers said that this finding could be leveraged to influence how we regulate sugar and sweeteners as food additives.
156 test subjects had their sense of smell and taste tested before and after drinking coffee. The researchers found no changes tin their sense of smell, but they found that the sense of taste was affected.
“When people were tested after drinking coffee, they became more sensitive to sweetness, and less sensitive to bitterness,” said Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Alexander Wieck Fjældstad, who was involved in carrying out the study.
To rule out the possibility that caffeine in the coffee could be a factor, the researchers repeated the experiment using decaffeinated coffee, finding the same result.
“It’s probably some of the bitter substances in the coffee that create this effect,” Fjældstad added.
“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.”
According to the researcher, the study sheds some light on a new aspect of our knowledge about our senses of smell and taste.
“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.”
According to Fjældstad, the results could provide us with a better understanding of how our taste buds work. “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 utilised 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,” he said.