Over the years, many marketing campaigns have tried to form a connection between Coffee and Antioxidants1.
They do have a relationship; coffee supplies the body with many different types of Antioxidants. But what kind of health benefits are we talking about?
After reading this article, some people would argument that, as Antioxidants are good for health, they should increase their regular coffee consumption. But that will not be a wise thing to do.
Having more cups of coffee means your body is getting a higher supply of Antioxidants, but at the same time, it is also getting loaded with caffeine.
As a rule of thumb, the average adult should limit their coffee intake to 400 milligrams of caffeine or 2-4 cups a day.2
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are found in many regular food items. Starting from Dark Chocolate to different plant-based foods3 such as Pecans, Blueberries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Goji Berries, Kale, Beans, and Red Cabbage are good sources of Antioxidants.
Now the question we should ask is, “What Are Antioxidants, and are they good for human health?”
Yes, they are. The most significant advantage of Antioxidants is they are great at fighting the free radicals floating around in our bodies. Free Radicals are produced as a byproduct of our body’s response to different environmental stimuli4.
They are also great at fighting oxidative stress in the body. It can be caused by excessive exercise, exposure to radiation, smoking, environmental pollution, artificial sweeteners’ consumption, etc. All these events trigger oxidative stress in the body, which then damages the body cells.
According to a report in Frontiers in Pharmacology5, Antioxidants are an excellent defense against oxidative stress. Another report found that Antioxidants reduce vision loss in older people.
Now, let us break a myth. Antioxidants are not a particular component. Instead, it defines a range of chemical components that act as antioxidants in the human body.
Polyphenols, phytoestrogens, Selenium, Manganese, Vitamin A, C, E, Zeaxanthin are all Antioxidants and are found in different plant-based food items.
What Are the Top Sources of Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are produced by the human body naturally. But many food items work as an additional source of Antioxidants. So which food item has the highest supply of Antioxidants? It is dark chocolates. According to FRAP research in the Journal of Medicinal Food6, Dark Chocolate has 15 mmol of Antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). On the second and third spots, we have Blueberries and Raspberries. 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of Blueberries have 9.2 mmol of Antioxidants. And the same amount of Raspberries has 2.3 mmol of Antioxidants. Blueberries are the top fruit that has the highest level of Antioxidants.
Strawberries are a great source of Vitamin C. But they also are rich in Antioxidants, especially Anthocyanins. This particular compound is what gives them their red color. The higher the Anthocyanins level in a strawberry, the more intense it is in its red color.
According to the same FRAP survey, Goji Berries contain 4.3 mmol of Antioxidants per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). No wonder they have been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries.
Another fruit rich in Antioxidants is Raspberries. They are also rich sources of Vitamin C, Manganese, and dietary fiber. In 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of Raspberries, there is four mmol of antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants from cocoa have many health benefits such as reduced inflammation and reduced risk of heart disease. Regular consumption of Blueberries has been reported to reduce the speed of brain damage with age7.
They do this by charging specific genes, reducing the inflammation in the body, and neutralizing the free radicals in the body.
Strawberries, another source of Antioxidants, also can reduce the risk of heart disease in humans. Once inside the human body, they reduce the harmful LDL Cholesterol levels and significantly raise the beneficial HDL Cholesterol levels.
The Antioxidants in goji Berries, known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides8, can slow down skin aging and reduce heart and cancer risk.
A study was conducted where older adults were asked to consume Goji berry milkshake for three months straight.
After 3 months, when their blood was tested, it was found that the antioxidant levels in their blood have increased by 57%.
Raspberries are rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant also found in Strawberries. A study conducted on the health benefits of Red Raspberries found that they killed 90% of breast, colon, and stomach cancer cells.
Coffee and Antioxidants
According to the American Chemical Society9 and many other similar credible sources, coffee is the number one source of Antioxidants in the American Diet. But do Americans drink coffee to get a kick out of it, or are they aware of its Antioxidant properties?
So far, we have looked at what Antioxidants are, the sources of Antioxidants, and their health benefits. We also explained the concept that Antioxidants are not any particular component, instead are a wide variety of nutrients that have the properties of Antioxidants.
Now let us answer the question, “What type of Antioxidants does Coffee Have?”
There are two particular Antioxidants found in coffee- quinine and magnesium.
Quinines fight different diseases in the body and keep our immune system healthy. This antioxidant is found in green coffee beans too, but they get more effective after roasting.
Magnesium, is the other antioxidant, it is also a natural nutrient in coffee. It works to keep the blood pressure in check and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
This article answered the question of what are Antioxidants and what are the benefits of Antioxidants. We also saw the different types of Antioxidants found in Raspberries, Strawberries, Goji Berries, Cocoa, and of course, Coffee.
Despite having health benefits, excessive consumption of coffee is not advised. Drink coffee in moderation. One cup of coffee will meet your Antioxidant requirements for the day.