Dunking doughnuts into hot coffee is not just a textural and sensory wonderland. Science now says the two actually counteract each other.
According to the Journal of Food Science, caffeinated coffee can dull the sweetness of sugar. And not just doughnuts, but all sugary foods like muffins, cake, cookies and cereal. That means that by sipping on your morning cup of joe, you could be completely changing the taste of your breakfast or mid-morning sugar craving.
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In one study, more than 100 participants sampled decaf coffee supplemented with either caffeine (a level found in you average cup of strong coffee) or an equally bitter concentration of quinine (a white, bitter, slightly water-soluble alkaloid). Both groups then added sugar to their coffee. The result? The group drinking the caffein-supplemented coffee reported that it tasted less sweet. And that subsequent sugar consumption tastes less sweet as well.
As a by-product of this study, researchers found that:
Panelists were also unable to discern whether they had consumed the caffeinated or non-caffeinated coffee, with ratings of alertness increased equally, but no significant improvement in reaction times, highlighting coffee’s powerful placebo effect.
Ain’t that something. So basically, whether or not you’re drinking decaf or regular coffee, chances are, if you’re used to drinking caffeinated coffee, it will still have the same “alertness” aftershock.
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The whole thing centers around adenosine, a chemical in our brains that makes us sleepy. The study refers to caffeine as “a powerful antagonist” to the receptors that adenosine binds to. That’s where that “alert” feeling comes from. Caffeine makes us feel we’re more awake when our body and mind may not be.
Another possible side-effect of a caffeine and sugar bomb combo is that, since you can’t really taste the full sweetness of that doughnut, you may crave another. And another. And then, well, two words: sugar crash.