It may seem counter-intuitive, but scientists have found that espresso, French roast, and other dark-roasted coffee is kinder and gentler on the tummy, because these roasts harbor a component that reduces the production of stomach acid.

People who love their morning java but find that it can trigger heartburn and stomach upset can take hope from the study, which was conducted by Veronika Samoza at the University of Vienna and Thomas Hofmann from Technische Universitat Munchen in Germany.

Almost two out of every 10 people – an estimated 40 million in the United States – avoid or limit coffee due to stomach upset. For years they’ve tried numerous strategies to allow them to drink coffee without digestive repercussions -- decaffeinated coffee, adding lots of milk, taking antacids, trying specialty brews marketed as “stomach friendly” – but up to recently, it’s really been a guessing game because health experts hadn’t identified the precise stomach irritating components of coffee.

To further complicate matters, the processes used to produce stomach-friendly coffee also can reduce the amount of healthful substances in the coffee, including some that scientists have linked to benefits such as protection against diabetes and heart disease. Not to mention, the processing often alters the robust taste and smell of coffee.

To study the offending substances in coffee, the scientists exposed cultures of human stomach cells to a variety of different coffees including regular, dark-roast, mild, decaffeinated, and stomach-friendly. They identified several components that appeared to trigger chemical changes associated with increased acid production. These substances include caffeine, catechols, and other ingredients.

The researchers discovered that one of the coffee components, N-methylpyridium (NMP), seems to block the ability of the stomach cells to produce hydrochloric acid and could provide a way to reduce or avoid stomach irritation. Since NMP is generated only upon roasting and is not found in raw coffee beans, darker-roasted coffees contain higher amounts of this stomach-friendly coffee ingredient. Dark- roasted coffee can potentially contain up to twice as much of the ingredient as light-roasted coffees, but its levels can vary depending on the variety of coffee bean and the roasting method, the researchers said.

"Since NMP is generated upon roasting, dark-roast coffees contain high amounts of this stomach friendly coffee ingredient," Hofmann and Somoza said. "Now, there is hope for a good morning start with a freshly brewed cup of optimized stomach friendly coffee."

Have you tried dark roasted coffee for digestive relief? If so, please share your experience with us!

Source: Science Daily