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How Antioxidants In Coffee Support Good Health

Most people today enjoy their morning with a cup of coffee in hand. Whether it be an Americano, espresso, drip, or pour-over, coffee is consumed almost universally by just about everyone on Earth, and in any city, you are only minutes from a coffee shop.

Coffee has become an integral part of many people’s lives, from the consumers that rely on it as a morning pick-me-up, to the countries that rely on it as a major source of income.

While many people enjoy their morning cup of joe, many people are unaware of the fascinating history of coffee and the many health benefits the beverage can provide.

Below is a closer look at the history of coffee as well as how the antioxidants and nutrition in coffee can help to support good overall health.

History of coffee

Coffee has a deep-rooted history in civilization — consumption and trade of coffee began as early as the 15th century within the Arabian peninsula. The beverage was popular enough during this time that coffee houses were created where people could enjoy coffee. The coffee houses in some ways foreshadowed the world we live in today with coffee shops scattered throughout every city.

As trade expanded, the coffee trade extended to Europe, where it exploded in popularity. The introduction of coffee to Europe was a catalyst for the widespread nature of coffee experienced today. From Europe, coffee drinking followed the rest of the world where Europe spread its influence. Coffee soon became a staple in the American colonies and the plant was brought to the lower Americas where it thrived.

Today, Brazil is one of the highest exporters of coffee, and cultivation of the crop is centered around the region known as the “bean belt” that extends from 25 degrees north of the equator and 30 degrees south of the equator. Central and upper south America, regions of Africa, and parts of Asia now supply the world with its coffee supply.

Fast forward to today and the consumption of coffee is entering what is known as the ”third wave of coffee.” This term is utilized to describe a general trend towards specialty coffee and specialty drinks that focus on the artisanal nature of coffee consumption.

With the new wave of coffee, consumers are looking at the varietal, processing method, roast, and even brew method to extract the desired flavor profile out of the bean.

Antioxidants in coffee

Coffee is extremely popular for its ability to promote wakefulness and alertness, but many people are unaware of the fact that a morning cup of coffee is also full of health-promoting molecules. Namely, coffee is full of antioxidants that help the body in a variety of different ways.

Antioxidants are important molecules within the body as they help to fight back against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a chemical strain placed on your body at a cellular level due to an accumulation of reactive oxygen species.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a molecule naturally occurring within coffee that most people are familiar with. Caffeine within the human body acts by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine binding to its receptor which is what gives caffeine its ability to induce wakefulness and alertness.

While most people are familiar with caffeine’s effects on alertness, the antioxidant properties of caffeine are less widely known. Research has suggested that the antioxidant properties of caffeine are potentially effective in supporting the brain in a way to protect it from neurodegenerative problems.

It is important to note that while caffeine has positive health implications, it is important to utilize it responsibly. Contrary to what many people think, caffeine is only a short-term solution to increase energy, and too much caffeine can have negative aspects on your wellbeing such as feeling anxious and even developing a tolerance and addiction. A morning cup of coffee is nothing to be concerned about, but when caffeine consumption is overdone it can lead to problems.

For those looking to squeeze out more energy later in the day, focusing on improving natural energy is ideal.

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Chlorogenic acid

Caffeine is not the only nutritional star when it comes to the contents of coffee. Coffee, tea, fruits, and vegetables all contain an antioxidant molecule known as chlorogenic acid. Within the body, the molecule acts by donating electrons to free radicals to help restore their chemical stability.

Chlorogenic acid is naturally found in high concentrations within green coffee beans. Unfortunately, green coffee beans are not how coffee is brewed. Green coffee beans undergo a process known as roasting that heats up the beans and leads to coffee beans turning a brown color.

The heat from roasting degrades the level of chlorogenic acid, but some of it thankfully still makes its way into your cup. Lighter roasts will typically have more since they undergo the roasting cycle for less time.

Melanoidins

Melanoidins are another antioxidant found within coffee. Unlike chlorogenic acid, melanoidins increase in levels thanks to the roasting process. Melanoidins are not only antioxidants, but also contribute to the flavor and color of coffee.

Melanoidins come in a variety of structures, and most provide an antioxidant quality that helps to protect cellular structures from oxidative damage. This helps to support overall health by supporting a healthy balance of free radicals and antioxidants.

Several health conditions can be linked to an increase in chronic oxidative stress, and having a consistent intake of antioxidants has the potential to help mitigate the development of issues with an underlying basis of free radical imbalance.

Other health benefits of coffee

While antioxidants are one way that coffee supports your health, there are also additional benefits that coffee provides. The diuretic effects, focus boost, and mineral richness coffee offers are all additional benefits of the coveted beverage.

Diuretic

One of the major ways that coffee can be beneficial is that it acts as a mild diuretic. Essentially, when you consume coffee, it promotes water loss through the digestive tract. This quality of coffee can help to support regularity (i.e. going to the restroom). For those that suffer from constipation, it can be a welcomed effect of coffee.

While the diuretic quality of coffee is generally a looked-forward-to effect, it can also lead to the potential for dehydration if you’re chugging order after order of an iced macchiato on a hot summer day without slipping in some pure H2O in between.

Being aware of the increase in water loss due to coffee is important to ensure proper hydration. A good rule of thumb is to consume an equal amount of water to the amount of coffee you consume. This will ensure your body is adequately hydrated and avoids symptoms of dehydration like cracked skin, headaches, and more.

Focus

The changes in perception with coffee are another health benefit of coffee. The caffeine found within coffee interacts with the brain which can help people to be more focused and alert. Many people utilize this effect to their advantage and utilize coffee when a late-night working or study session is warranted.

While these benefits are desirable, it is important to only have coffee and caffeine in moderation. While in low doses, caffeine can provide alertness and focus support, in large quantities caffeine can induce feelings of anxiety and can make you less focused and more scatterbrained.

Minerals

The final health benefit of coffee is that it also contains minerals important to bodily function. Specifically, coffee is a solid source of potassium, magnesium, and niacin, and a source of many other minerals in small amounts.

Interestingly, the mineral content of a cup of coffee depends on the specific brew method. An experiment that kept the coffee consistent found that both mineral content and antioxidant content varied based upon the brew method alone.

Another interesting finding is that coffee consumption can deplete the number of other minerals by interfering with their absorption within the body. Caffeine specifically decreases calcium, iron, and B vitamins. Choosing decaffeinated coffee could help to diminish the level of nutritional depletion which would allow coffee consumption to provide further nutritional benefit.

Conclusion

In summary, coffee is a beverage enjoyed by many. Its ability to be consumed hot, cold, or even blended make it a beverage that can be had all year round.

On top of it being a delicious beverage, coffee is full of antioxidants such as caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and melanoidin. When it comes to oxidative stress, your body can use all the antioxidant help it can get.

Coffee also provides additional health benefits such as support with focus, digestion, and aiding your mineral intake. Consuming coffee in moderation has many upsides that can help to support your overall well-being and ability to live a long and healthy life.

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