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Good News For Coffee Drinkers:

Beneficial Antioxidants In Java

2005: 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 drinking coffee.

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 coffee.

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://
Salazar-Martinez E. et. al. 2005.

Coffee Consumption and Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Available at: abstract/140/1 /1
Kirchheimer S. 2004 Coffee: The New Health Food? Available at: content/icle/80/96454.htm


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