A new study reports that one health benefit of coffee may be as an antioxidant. According to Joe A. Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania (U.S.), Americans actually get most of their antioxidants from coffee.
Vinson states that antioxidants can be good for you in a number of ways including affecting enzymes and genes, though more research is needed, he said. They are also thought to combat damage to cells and DNA.
Vinson’s study considered the antioxidant content of more than 100 different food items, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, oils tea, coffee and coco. Then, using the Agriculture Department’s data on food consumption patterns, calculated the antioxidants Americans get from each food.
The results showed that adults consumed 1,299 milligrams of antioxidants daily from coffee, 294 milligrams from tea, 76 milligrams from bananas, 72 milligrams from dry beans, and 48 milligrams from corn.
Thus, most of the antioxidants taken in came from coffee since, according to the Agriculture Department; American adults drink 1.64 cups a day.
However, the study also concluded Americans are still not getting enough fruits and vegetables, which are, themselves, important sources of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and minerals. Good vegetable and fruits sources include dates, cranberries and red grapes.
Recently, Japanese research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute linked daily coffee consumption of up to four cups to lower risk of liver cancer and research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggested coffee drinking lowered the risk of diabetes.
The Harvard study found men who drank more than six 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of Type 2 diabetes by about 50%, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30%.
While these studies suggest a favorable side to America’s coffee consumption habits, excessive coffee drinking has its critics who point out that high caffeine intake makes many people jittery and unable to sleep. It may even raise cholesterol levels. As Vinson remarked as a disclaimer to the findings "We always talk about moderation in anything."