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The Nutrition of Coffee

Aug 3, 2010

The nutrition of coffee has been controversial for decades. Despite current research, many people have the misconception that even coffee consumed in moderation is “bad.” Coffee can actually provide many health benefits when consumed moderately. An average amount of coffee is considered to be 3 eight-ounce cups consumed daily. More than 10 eight-ounce cups is considered to be “excessive.” The nutrition of coffee can provide many health benefits from mental alertness to a healthy immune system. This article discusses 4 components of coffee nutrition.

Plant Phenols

Plant phenols are powerful antioxidants found in coffee. Plant phenols in coffee are similar to the antioxidants found in berries and include flavonoids and lignans. Researchers believe that plant phenols can protect the body from cellular damage and diseases involving the cardiovascular system and cancer. Plant phenols are also involved in the breakdown of lipids and carbohydrates in the body.

Chlorogenic Acid

Coffee is the main source of chlorogenic acid in the American diet. Coffee can contain anywhere from .5mg to 1mg of chlorogenic acid per 8-ounce cup. Chlorogenic acid prevents the growth of tumors and slows the growth of existing tumors. Chlorogenic acid is also believed to contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system by reducing triglyceride levels and decreasing blood cholesterol. Chlorogenic acid also regulates the movement of bile, thereby reducing bile stagnation, which is thought to reduce the effect of liver and kidney disease. Bile stagnation causes adverse effects in the liver, kidneys and gallbladder and can cause cancer and stone formation.

Caffeine

As stated above, for maximum benefits, coffee should be consumed in moderation. A moderate amount of caffeine can increase mental clarity and focus. It has also been suggested that caffeine improves cognitive function and could prevent the development of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Caffeine might not be healthy for some people who have heart conditions because caffeine can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. The caffeine in coffee could also be contraindicated with certain medications, such as stimulants or diuretics.  

Tocopherols

Tocopherols in coffee contain vitamin E. Tocopherols in coffee act similarly to plant phenols. Tocopherols act like antioxidants and assist in the synthesis of carbohydrates and lipids. Tocopherols also protect cells against damage and destroy free radicals in your body. Tocopherols found in coffee are particularly important for ocular health and your skin. Tocopherols can also inhibit the growth of gallbladder and kidney stones and may protect you against colorectal cancer.

As you can see, the moderate consumption of coffee can provide many health benefits including cancer prevention and increased cognitive function. The nutrition in coffee has also been demonstrated to improve performance in endurance sports. It should be noted that coffee is intended to complement a healthy diet, not replace the antioxidants and other nutrients found in fruits and vegetables. Also, coffee is not for everyone. Before making coffee a regular part of your diet, you should check with your doctor to ensure that it won’t conflict with any medications you are taking; especially if you have cardiovascular disease.

 

 

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