the new research, published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, shows drinking coffee when taken with sugar has a much more potent effect on the brain.
Scientists at the University of Barcelona in Spain found taking caffeine and sugar at the same time boosted the brain’s performance more than taking them on their own.
Researchers now believe each one boosts the effect of the other on brain functions such as attention span and working memory.
The findings come from brain scans carried out on 40 volunteers who were tested after they had coffee with sugar, coffee without sugar, sugar on its own or just plain water.
The results suggest sugar-sweetened coffee may be the best way to prepare the brain for a busy day ahead.
But it’s likely that coffee lovers who do not take sugar will get the same benefits from enjoying a sugary snack with their drink.
50% of the U.S. population, equivalent to 150 million Americans, drink espresso, cappuccino, latte, or iced/cold coffees.
Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.
65% of all coffee is consumed during breakfast hours for people looking to kick-start their day. 30% of all coffee is consumed between meals, and the remaining 5% is consumed with other meals.
65% add sugar and/or cream.
Caffeine Health Effects
It is well known that caffeine is a stimulant which works on the brain and can combat drowsiness and fatigue.
Previous studies have even suggested three cups of a coffee a day can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, possibly by triggering a chain reaction in the brain that prevents the damage done by the Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s also well known that glucose, a type of sugar, is the main fuel which brain cells need to function properly. Researchers believe coffee and sugar boosts the effect of the other on brain functions
Latest Caffeine Research
But the latest research indicates the two complement each other when it comes to bolstering the brain’s performance.
Researchers performed MRI scans on patients’ brains as they carried out a standard task designed to check their attention span and working memory.
The tests were performed after they had consumed each of the caffeine drinks.
Results showed that when the volunteers drank coffee with sugar there was reduced activity in the bilateral parietal cortex and the left prefrontal cortex - the two parts of the brain responsible for attention and memory.
But while activity levels dropped, the brain’s performance did not.
Researchers said this shows the brain operates more efficiently when it has had a caffeine and sugar boost.
‘The two substances improve cognitive performance by increasing the efficiency of the two areas of the brain responsible for sustained attention and working memory,’ said researcher Dr Josep Serra Grabulosa.
‘The brain is more efficient under the combined effect of the two substances, since it needs fewer resources to produce the same level of performance than when volunteers took only caffeine, glucose or water.'