EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: Sunday, March 21, 6:45 p.m., Eastern Time
With stomach irritation preventing almost 2 out of every 10 people from enjoying coffee, scientists today reported discovery of several substances that may be among the culprits responsible for brewing up heartburn and stomach pain in every cup.
Their report, presented here at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, included the counter-intuitive finding that espresso, French roast, and other dark-roasted coffee may be easier on the tummy because these roasts contain a substance that tells the stomach to reduce production of acid. The research could lead to a new generation of stomach-friendly brews with the rich taste and aroma of regular coffee, the scientists said.
Estimates suggest that up to 40 million people in the United States alone either avoid coffee, or cannot drink as much as they like, due to stomach irritation. To study the irritants in coffee, the scientists exposed cultures of human stomach cells to a variety of different coffee preparations, including regular, dark-roast, mild, decaffeinated, and stomach-friendly. They identified several substances that appeared to trigger chemical changes associated with increased acid production. These substances include caffeine, catechols, and other ingredients.