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A Surprising Way to Make a Sweet Treat Taste Even Sweeter

FRIDAY, April 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Like your sweets really sweet? Try enjoying them with a cup o' joe.

Coffee makes sweet foods taste even sweeter, a new study shows.

European researchers tested 156 volunteers' sense of taste and smell before and after they drank coffee. Their sensitivity to smell didn't change, but coffee did heighten their sense of taste.

And this was true whether they drank caffeinated coffee or decaf, according to findings published recently in the journal Foods.

"When people were tested after drinking coffee, they became more sensitive to sweetness, and less sensitive to bitterness," said lead author Dr. Alexander Fjældstad, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Aarhus University in Denmark.

"It's probably some of the bitter substances in the coffee that create this effect," he suggested.

Fjældstad said the findings may explain why, if you enjoy a piece of dark chocolate with your java, its taste is much milder -- "because the bitterness is downplayed and the sweetness is enhanced."

The study provides new insight into human senses of taste and smell.

"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," Fjældstad said in a university news release.

He said further study could affect several efforts to reduce sugar consumption and improve health.

"More research in this area could have significance for how we regulate the way in which we use sugar and sweeteners as food additives," Fjældstad said. "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."

More information

Fifth Sense, a U.K. research organization, has more on taste.

SOURCE: Aarhus University, news release, April 21, 2020

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