Why Dark, Roasted Coffee Beans Are Better

It has a lighter effect on the stomach, researchers say

According to a new scientific study, it would appear that roasting coffee beans has a double set of effects. While their flavor becomes a lot richer, and generally tastier, roasting them also promotes the formation of a chemical compound that in turn makes the stomach produce less acid. This is nothing but good news for coffee drinkers, who have long been told that their favorite beverage has a negative impact on their stomach, if drunk excessively. The new data were presented at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), on March 21, Wired reports.

The researchers who presented the findings say that the discovery may lead to the development of new types of coffee beans that would be gentler on the stomach. Avid coffee drinkers already know that consuming darker beans tends to have less of an effect on their stomachs, and that lighter-roasted variants incite more acid production. But now, they finally have a scientific background to prove it. Drinking coffee has been associated in previous investigations with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, colon cancer, or even obesity. The findings, however, apply only to those who consume a single cup per day.

Still, lately many people have moved to drinking decaffeinated coffee, or avoiding the beverage altogether, on account of the effect it had on their stomach and hearts. It has also been discovered in other studies that treating coffee beans with steam seemed to reduce these effects. Researchers at the time said that this could be attributed to lower levels of caffeine and related compounds in these brews. “But there is no experimental or human data that says these compounds increase gastric acid,” says University of Vienna expert Veronika Somoza. She and her team conducted a series of investigations on a number of popular coffee brands.

They looked at the chemical profile and effects of several compounds in coffee, including caffeine and a substance called N-methylpyridinium. For all of the chemicals targeted in the investigation, a direct correlation was discovered between sing stomach cells to them and increased production of gastric acid. However, the same correlation did not hold true for N-methylpyridinium. In this case, gastric acid production was lowered. The chemical does not appear in green coffee beans, as it is only produced in increasing amounts when beans are roasted.

“Most people think that non-processed food is beneficial, that possibly raw foods are best, but we do not believe that. There are healthy, beneficial compounds in processed food. Our idea is to identify these beneficial compounds and enhance them,” Somoza concludes.

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