60-Second Science

Stomach Cells Happier with Dark Roast Coffee

In a study presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society, food chemists found that dark roasting coffee produces a chemical compound that keeps stomach cells from producing the excess acid often caused by coffee drinking. Christopher Intagliata reports

Ever get a sour stomach after your morning coffee? Well, you might end up switching to a dark roast—because that coffee concoction may leave you with a happier tummy. That's according to research presented at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. [And to be published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,]

Some coffees are labeled "stomach friendly," because they're steam treated to drive out caffeine and other chemicals thought to cause gastrointestinal distress. But food chemists [Veronika Somoza et al.] wanted to know exactly which chemicals were behind the heartburn. So they took extracts of two coffee blends—one light, one dark—and their steam-treated counterparts. Each extract proved to be a unique chemical mix, with different amounts of caffeine and other compounds.

When the researchers served these coffee extracts to cultured human stomach cells, the cells jacked up acid production. Except in the case of one extract, high in a compound called N-methylpyridinium—a chemical produced in the roasting process that's not found in raw green coffee beans. And the darker the roast, the more there is. Now the researchers are test roasting a stomach-soothing N-methylpyridinium blend. Human trials will determine if it has all the boldness with none of the reflux.

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

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