Written by Chris Kilham
It’s an upside down world. We used to hear that coffee, a common drink to kick-start a person’s morning, was a guilty pleasure at best and a health evil at worst. Fast-forward to today, and we now know that coffee is a health elixir of the highest magnitude, offering protection to the heart, lowering the risk of several forms of cancer and reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Research into the natural properties of coffee shows that the daily brew is a potent protective antioxidant potion. Plants produce antioxidants to protect their cells from premature destruction from exposure to heat, light, air, moisture and time. In the human body, many of these substances are biologically active, and they help to protect our cells as well. Recent science suggests that these compounds may cause gene changes, which enable the body to express its own protective agents.
To simplify, antioxidants inhibit the “rusting” of cells in our body. Just as metals rust due to exposure to oxygen, cells in the body also become damaged by exposure to certain “reactive oxygen species” – or ROS. These damaging agents are caused by environmental toxins, smoking, poor eating habits, metabolism, exercise and other factors. When unchecked, these ROS contribute to degenerative diseases. Oxidative damage is associated with diabetes, arthritis, cancer, degenerative brain disorders, and numerous aspects of aging and degeneration.
Coffee is super-concentrated with antioxidants and is especially high in one group of antioxidant compounds called flavonoids. The flavonoids have garnered considerable scientific interest because of their beneficial effects on human health. In various journal studies they have been reported to possess antioxidant, antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor activities.
Coffee’s antioxidant compounds include caffeic acid, caffeine, the chlorogenic acids, eugenol, gamma-tocopherol, isoeugenol, p-coumaric acid, scopoletin and tannic acid. In fact, coffee is the primary source of beneficial, protective antioxidants in the American diet.