Could Coffee be the Secret to Fighting Obesity?

Scientists from the University of Nottingham have discovered that drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate ‘brown fat’, the body’s own fat-fighting defenses, which could be the key to tackling obesity and diabetes.

The pioneering study, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to be carried out in humans to find components which could have a direct effect on ‘brown fat’ functions, an important part of the human body which plays a key role in how quickly we can burn calories as energy.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), also known as brown fat, is one of two types of fat found in humans and other mammals. Initially only attributed to babies and hibernating mammals, it was discovered in recent years that adults can have brown fat too. Its main function is to generate body heat by burning calories (opposed to white fat, which is a result of storing excess calories).

People with a lower body mass index (BMI) therefore have a higher amount of brown fat.

Professor Michael Symonds, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham who co-directed the study said: “Brown fat works in a different way to other fat in your body and produces heat by burning sugar and fat, often in response to cold. Increasing its activity improves blood sugar control as well as improving blood lipid levels and the extra calories burnt help with weight loss. However, until now, no one has found an acceptable way to stimulate its activity in humans.

The team started with a series of stem cell studies to see if caffeine would stimulate brown fat. Once they had found the right dose, they then moved on to humans to see if the results were similar.

The team used a thermal imaging technique, which they’d previously pioneered, to trace the body’s brown fat reserves. The non-invasive technique helps the team to locate brown fat and assess its capacity to produce heat.

“From our previous work, we knew that brown fat is mainly located in the neck region, so we were able to image someone straight after they had a drink to see if the brown fat got hotter,” said Professor Symonds.

“The results were positive and we now need to ascertain that caffeine as one of the ingredients in the coffee is acting as the stimulus or if there’s another component helping with the activation of brown fat. We are currently looking at caffeine supplements to test whether the effect is similar. Once we have confirmed which component is responsible for this, it could potentially be used as part of a weight management regime or as part of glucose regulation programme to help prevent diabetes.”

Source: University of Nottingham


Today’s Comic

Advertisements

Creative Coffee

‘Sweet Little Rain’ served by a coffee shop in Shanghai, China

The cotton candy is melted by the steam coming up from the coffee and the melted sugar is dripping down like raining.

Infographic: How Americans Consume their Coffee and the Ranking of Non-diary Beverages

See large image . . . . .

Source: Square Inc.

Coffee Sold in California Must Have Cancer Warning, Judge Says

Nate Raymond wrote . . . . . . .

Starbucks Corp and other coffee sellers must put a cancer warning on coffee sold in California, a Los Angeles judge has ruled, possibly exposing the companies to millions of dollars in fines.

A little-known not-for-profit group sued some 90 coffee retailers, including Starbucks, on grounds they were violating a California law requiring companies to warn consumers of chemicals in their products that could cause cancer.

One of those chemicals is acrylamide, a byproduct of roasting coffee beans that is present in high levels in brewed coffee.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said in a decision dated Wednesday that Starbucks and other companies had failed to show there was no significant risk from a carcinogen produced in the coffee roasting process, court documents showed.

Starbucks and other defendants have until April 10 to file objections to the decision.

Starbucks declined to comment, referring reporters to a statement by the National Coffee Association (NCA) that said the industry was considering an appeal and further legal actions.

“Cancer warning labels on coffee would be misleading. The U.S. government’s own Dietary Guidelines state that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle,” the NCA statement said.

In his decision, Berle said: “Defendants failed to satisfy their burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health.”

Officials from Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN.O), McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), Peet’s and other big coffee sellers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT). It calls for fines as large as $2,500 per person for every exposure to the chemical since 2002 at the defendants’ shops in California. Any civil penalties, which will be decided in a third phase of the trial, could be huge in California, which has a population of nearly 40 million.

CERT’s lawyer Raphael Metzger did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Starbucks lost the first phase of the trial in which it failed to show the level of acrylamide in coffee was below that which would pose a significant risk of cancer. In the second phase of the trial, defendants failed to prove there was an acceptable “alternative” risk level for the carcinogen, court documents showed.

Several defendants in the case settled before Wednesday’s decision, agreeing to post signage about the cancer-linked chemical and pay millions in fines, according to published reports.

Source: Reuters

How to Make the Perfect Shot of Espresso Every Time

The average American drinks more than three cups of coffee a day, contributing to a $40 billion industry in the U.S. alone, according to the National Coffee Association. But not all coffee is created equal; flavor profiles vary. Focusing on espresso, scientists say they have now unlocked the key to creating consistent cups of java.

The researchers are presenting their results today at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 13,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“One day you might have a good cup of coffee and the next day you might not. From a scientific perspective, it has always puzzled me why we couldn’t do the same thing twice,” Christopher H. Hendon, Ph.D., says. “My research looks at every variable that goes into making espresso coffee, from grinding and packing the ground coffee, to water pressure and mineral chemistry. If every single café in America were to implement the procedure, it would save the U.S. $300 million a year by reducing the amount of coffee beans used to make espresso, while improving reproducibility.”

Hendon’s research is some of the first of its kind, earning him the title, “Dr. Coffee.”

Previous research in his lab explored several variables that impact the reproducibility of espresso. For example, water hardness varies throughout the U.S., and this can affect flavor. “Hard” water with a high amount of magnesium and calcium causes coffee to have a stronger flavor than “soft” water This is because compounds such as caffeine stick to magnesium during the brewing process. Hard water can also have high amounts of bicarbonate, which causes coffee to have a more bitter flavor.

The freshness of the coffee beans can also impact how tasty a cup of coffee is. Freshly roasted coffee contains carbon dioxide and other compounds that easily evaporate. Over time, these volatile compounds escape the beans, resulting in a less flavorful cup of coffee. Lower temperature slows the rate of evaporation, which explains why storing coffee in the fridge extends its shelf life.

Hendon’s team at the University of Oregon has been focusing on the process of grinding coffee beans and the brewing method itself. “There is a point in grinding coffee beans when you make too many small particles, which stick together and result in reduced extractions,” Hendon says. Although smaller particles mean a greater surface area, which should result in consistently tasty espresso, there is a critical point at which smaller isn’t better. For this reason, the grinders used can have a significant impact on the flavor of the resulting cup of coffee.

Additionally, when extracting the espresso, the water should come into contact with the coffee grounds uniformly. Passing water through the grounds in a systematic manner would ensure that all of the grounds come in contact with water equally. In comparison, with a traditional drip-brew coffee pot, the water drips mainly through the center of the grounds while the grounds on the outside have little contact with water.

By collaborating with baristas, Hendon developed a method by which they can achieve their desired flavor profile consistently. Hendon proposes an optimization process achieved by altering grinding size and brew ratio. “By predetermining the coffee-to-water ratio, as well as the water pressure, the maximum extraction can be systematically determined,” he says. “The barista can then iteratively improve their espresso reproducibility, while reducing waste coffee mass.”

Now, he plans to take his work in another direction, focusing on the impact of temperature on grinding coffee. Specifically, he explains that cooled coffee grinds more uniformly and would therefore impart greater control on the resulting cup of joe.

Source: American Chemical Society