Good News For Coffee Drinkers:
Beneficial Antioxidants In Java
Volume 2, Number 2
The morning cup of coffee has
an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the
afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to
reproduce....~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
For years physicians have recommended their patients cut down or
eliminate their coffee intake. Coffee has been linked as a
contributor to stress, hypertension, heartburn, PMS and increasing
cholesterol levels. However, new finding presented in August 2005
and many other recent studies demonstrating more health benefits in
coffee may give cause to reconsider the prior advice against
The latest research findings were released showing coffee as the
number one source of antioxidants found in the typical American
diet. These findings from Chemistry Professor Joe Vinton and his
team from the University of Scranton Pennsylvania were presented in
August at the 230th meeting of the American Chemical Society. The
University analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 food
items and then compared these finding to the typical American diet.
Typical American adults drink 1.6 cups of coffee each day,
potentially consuming approximately 1300 milligrams a day of
antioxidants from either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee.
A study released earlier in this year from the Harvard School of
Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital found that
participants who regularly drank coffee significantly reduced the
risk of onset of type 2 diabetes, when compared to non-coffee
drinkers. The antioxidants in coffee may also increases a person's
insulin sensitivity, improving the body's response to insulin,
decreasing the risk of diabetes.
These new findings from Vinton's team demonstrate that coffee, due
to the rate of consumption in the typical diet, is the primary
source of antioxidants for most Americans. Other foods, particularly
fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, red grapes, apples,
tomatoes and dates contain more beneficial antioxidants than coffee,
but are consumed less often in the typical American diet than coffee
so contribute smaller amounts of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are chemical
substances that help protect against cell damage by ridding the body
of harmful free radicals that cause certain diseases. Free radicals
can cause mutations in cell DNA that can lead to cancer, contribute
to symptoms of aging, cardiovascular disease and other diseases.
Well known antioxidants include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E,
carotenoids and flavonoids.
Over 19,000 studies have been done in recent decades examining
coffee's impact on health. Some of these studies have shown that
coffee may lower the risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and
colon cancer, lift moods, treat headaches and lower the risk of
cavities. Current thought is that one to two cups of coffee a day
appear to be beneficial.
Before rushing out and drinking
more coffee, one must remember with nutrition, the focus is on
utilization and moderation, providing enough but not too much of a
substance. The potential health benefits of the antioxidants in
coffee depend in how they are absorbed and utilized by the body;
high levels of antioxidants in foods do not necessarily translate to
high levels of anti-oxidants in the body. Additionally, coffee
should not be considered to be a substitute for more antioxidant and
nutrient rich beneficial fruits and vegetables. Vinton points out
the unfortunate fact that Americans are still not eating enough
fruits and vegetables, which contain more antioxidants as well as
other beneficial nutrients, vitamins minerals and fiber not found in
So when you pour your cup of
exhilarating morning java, you may be getting more than a "cheering
influence" you may also be drinking a healthy dose of beneficial
antioxidants. However for even more beneficial antioxidants,
remember your fruits and veggies.
For More Information
American Chemical Society. 2005. Coffee is number one source of
antioxidants. Available at: http:// www.physorg.com/news6067.html
Salazar-Martinez E. et. al. 2005.
Coffee Consumption and Risk for
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Available at: http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/
Kirchheimer S. 2004 Coffee: The New Health Food? Available at: