For many years, coffee has received so much condemnation for being an addictive, unhealthful habit for the greater population. Coffee has carried the impression of being an evil for people with heart ailments. It has also been claimed for being the cause of other illnesses like kidney and liver disorders, and diabetes. So it is with great relief for most people to hear that coffee is not the vile beverage that it has been portrayed to be.
Research studies have shown that, contrary to the many misconceptions about it, coffee is actually a healthy drink that could ward off many of the world’s major illnesses. And the reason for this is the abundance of antioxidants that is found in coffee. Because coffee is a prominent part of a typical person’s diet, it has become a very important source of antioxidants, which is why much focus has been given to it by researchers. To better understand why coffee does what it does to the body, here is a list of the major antioxidants in coffee and the benefits they bring to the human body. Polyphenols
Polyphenols, also called flavonoids, are compounds that come in many forms. Some of them are called, flavonols, hydroxycinnamic acids, resveratrol, and anthocyanidins. Polyphenols are present in many types of plants such as berries, apples, red cabbage, tea, broccoli, and of course coffee. Most of the anti-oxidants in coffee are really a type of polyphenol and these include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, methylpridinium, and much, much more.
Polyphenols have been discovered to have antioxidative effects on the body, which mean they repair cell damage caused by toxins and free radicals, and also prevent further damage. Because of this, polyphenols help to decelerate the process of ageing and hold up the appearance of ageing symptoms like wrinkles and dry, brittle skin.
While there have been no conclusive researches done on the actual benefits of polyphenols, they are believed to have strong anti-carcinogenic properties that help in preventing or reducing the risks of several types of cancers. Their anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties also help to further enhance the process of fighting off cancer cells.
One of the most important polyphenol found in coffee is called chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid is a derivative of quinic and cinnamic acids. It is also abundant in fruits such as pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries.
A main benefit to be derived from chlorogenic acid is its ability to promote colon and liver health by enhancing their clean-up processes through regulated bowel movements and flushing out of toxins. It also protects both colon and liver from cancer by inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells.
Another advantage posed by chlorogenic acid is its role in weight loss. It hinders the release of glucose in the blood stream so that the body instead uses fats and calories from food to create energy. It is also responsible for coffee’s thermogenic property in which it increases the rate of metabolism to burn more fat and calories.
Because it holds back on glucose, chlorogenic acid is also beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels and preventing the onset of diabetes. In addition, it also helps in reducing fat and carbohydrate storage in the body because it encourages the body to burn these instead of glycogen as a source of energy. Chlorogenic acid has also been related to increasing sensitivity to insulin.
To a certain extent, chlorogenic acid helps in regulating blood pressure levels. This is due to its ability to regenerate vitamin E which reduces the levels of plasma in the blood thereby promoting improved blood circulation.
Caffeic acid is a natural phytochemical present in all plants but most abundant in fruits like apples and pears, herbs such as thyme, basil and oregano, and vegetables such as artichoke. Although its name is similar to caffeine, caffeic acid and caffeine are in no way related to each other.
Aside from its antioxidative effects, caffeic acid has been discovered to be beneficial to the respiratory system particularly in limiting the spread of a certain type of pneumonia within the body and reducing its inflammatory effects.
It has also been related to the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels, the prevention or delay in symptoms of neurodegenerative illness like Parkinson’s disease, and the prevention of liver cancer.
Caffeic acid, along with chlorogenic acid, is also said to be able to prevent the progression of Hepatitis B within the body because of its anti-viral properties.
Ferulic acid is another phytochemical found in coffee and most other plants, which has characteristics similar to caffeic acid. In fact, it can be found in almost the same sources as caffeic acid, namely, apples, artichokes, and whole grains.
Ferulic acid, just like all other antioxidants, neutralizes the effects of free radicals particularly ultraviolet rays. It is said that the potency of ferulic acid as an antioxidant even gets stronger the more exposure there is to UV rays.
It also plays a role in reducing blood pressure and bad cholesterol level, thereby reducing the risks of heart ailments.
Ferulic acid also revealed a beneficial effect on diminishing menopausal symptoms, specifically hot flushes. Other benefits to be gained from ferulic acid include the prevention of bone degeneration, cancer and diabetes.
Methylpyridinium is an antioxidant compound that is unique to coffee because it only arises during the roasting process as a byproduct of the chemical synthesis that occurs to another element of coffee called trigonelline. It is especially most abundant in darker roasts of coffee because the amount of methylpyridinium increases the longer the coffee is roasted.s
Methylpyridinium is an important aspect of coffee because of its anti-carcinogenic characteristics that enhances coffee’s ability to ward off cancer.
Methylpyridinium is also good for the digestive system because it prevents the stomach from producing too much acid that could eventually cause damage to the body.
Aside from having methylpyridinium, some types of coffee also provide further benefit of being gentle on the stomach, namely low-acid coffee. Low-acid coffee has been stripped of some of its acid via a natural method of high pressure steaming and vacuuming before the roasting process. This reduces the amount of irritants in coffee and effectively lowers its acidic level.
Therefore, to enjoy fully the benefits of coffee without experiencing discomfort due to its high acid content, it is highly recommended to switch to low-acid coffee. This is especially best for people who have acidity issues like heartburn, acid reflux and other stomach related problems.
These are just some of the important antioxidants found in coffee that have been covered by plenty of research that back up their proposed benefits to the human body. So before you listen to people who tell you that coffee is bad for your health, i.e., it stunts growth, causes ulcers and cancers and kidney disorders, it is worthwhile to read more about these facts first before kicking out the coffee habit.
Like most experts and nutritionists would say nowadays, coffee can be both healthy and detrimental. It all depends on the amount you consume on a day to day basis. So just like everything else, coffee has to be taken in moderation. You can’t just drink more coffee to increase the amount of anti-oxidants in your body because too much coffee can also become hazardous to your health. Up to six cups of coffee though, is said to be acceptable. So drink up and load up on all the antioxidants that could help you maintain a healthy life.