The dark power of coffee

Coffee is the subject of an amazing amount of scientific research. You can’t open a science or medical journal these days without an article on coffee’s preventative effect in diabetes, or its taste after have been digested and excreted by civet cats from Indonesia, jumping out at you. There are limits to how much coffee you can safely have every day but now a new study has suggested that getting the most from your coffee depends on how you roast it.

One of the claims that has increasingly been made around coffee in recent times is regarding its antioxidant capacity. This is undoubtedly a response to the hyped, and true, research surrounding tea and the antioxidant polyphenols that it contains.

Of the two, tea is the more gentle healer. It contains far less caffeine than coffee and it is the caffeine content of coffee that means two or three cups per day should be your limit. This is based on the research estimates which tell us that 300mg of caffeine per day should be your maximum. Allowing for the varying amounts of caffeine that are in instant, brewed, and espresso coffee, we arrive at two to three per day being your limit, assuming no other caffeine sources in your diet.

Given all of this, it does seem that coffee contains antioxidants and we all know how fundamental to a healthy body are the operations of antioxidants. By removing free radicals from your body antioxidants retard a range of disease processes and are thought by some to slow the ageing process.

What this new research has shown is that the amount of antioxidants in your cup of java depends on how the coffee beans have been roasted.

Previous research has suggested that the antioxidant effect of coffee could be traced to a substance called chlorogenic acid but this research from the University of British Columbia indicates this may not be the case. The Maillard effect refers to how carbohydrates and proteins in food are changed by heating. These researchers found that coffee beans lose 90 per cent of their chlorogenic acid during the roasting process but the darker the roast the more antioxidant activity present in the beans.

Go for your dark brew coffee drinkers and enjoy those two cups per day to the maximum.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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