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Coffee Antioxidant - Friend or Foe

By Chrisi Darrington

Before we get all excited over the recent news about coffee being our new antioxidant, we need to take a look at the "entire picture. Is there truly a coffee antioxidant? If there is, how exactly is coffee an antioxidant? Does it become the antioxidant when it's heated? Does the coffee antioxidant benefit everyone? Are there still dangers to drinking coffee? How much coffee is good for us and when does it become bad for us?

First let's try to break this down to something we can all understand. I mean, have you read the information about, "Green coffee antioxidant extract?"

Here's a quote from the applied food sciences, "Chlorogenic acid has been proven in animal studies in vitro to inhibit the hydrolysis of the glucose-6-phosphate enzyme in an irreversible fashion. This mechanism allows chlorogenic acid to reduce hepatic glycogenolysis (transformation of glycogen into glucose) and to reduce the absorption of new glucose. In addition, in vivo studies on animal subjects have demonstrated that the administration of chlorogenic acid lessens the hyperglycemic peak resulting from the glycogenolysis brought a...."

Basically chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant. This is one of the components in a coffee bean. Antioxidants are said to be an inhibitor of certain types of diseases. However, they are talking about cholorogenic acid in an isolated form. So, don't start chewing on coffee beans just yet.

When I realized how much mumbo jumbo was in that.pdf file I decided to try and find something a little less science lab nerd related and here's a quote from the next site I discovered, "The specific antiradical activity against the hydroxyl radical of the water soluble components in green and dark roasted Coffea arabica and Coffea robusta coffee samples, both in vitro by the chemical deoxiribose assay and ex vivo in a biological cellular system (IMR32 cells), were determined. All the tested coffee solutions showed remarkable antiradical activity."

Do these people think we all have medical and science degrees??? I mean come on Mr. Science guy, get a clue, write something with fewer ego-stroking sentences ok?

Once you get down to the very bottom of that article, you'll find something that makes sense, "The results indicate that brewed coffee contains many antioxidants and consumption of antioxidant-rich brewed coffee may inhibit diseases caused by oxidative damages."

I should get high kudos for giving that little bit of information up so freely. Now let me give you an idea of what I had to chew threw in order to get to the "bottom line".

Coffee beans are not all a like. Not all coffee beans are of the same quality or even the same make up. Sort of like comparing tennis shoes to sandals. Both go on your feet, but they are not made up of the same components.

You can actually break coffee down into several different water-soluble components. The dietary fiber derived from roasted coffee silverskin. This is one component of the coffee bean that has high antioxidant content.

Here's something else I found to be a bit tweaky. When they conduct these studies it's not like they get a huge group of people together, poor them all a cup of coffee and then measure just what sort of antioxidant effects are derived from drinking it. I mean really, doesn't that make sense? Wouldn't that be the easiest way to figure this out?

No? Hey, did he just call me a knucklehead!

Okay, so that's not how science works. What they do in fact is the break down the coffee beans into different components. They filter out the components that the coffee antioxidant is found in, and then they test lab rats in a variety of experiments to determine how well they survive with or without the various additives in their diet.

When they discover something really swell, like a coffee antioxidant, our culture of coffee drinking addicts suddenly becomes a feverorish mob. For years and years we"ve heard bad things about coffee of which most of us ignored, things like, "It's bad for your heart, increases blood pressure, may cause breast cancer, probably keeps you awake at night, and my personal favorite, has a poisonous gas when brewed." So, when the world of coffee addicts even gets a tiny hint that coffee could have something beneficial, believe me they don't just drink more coffee, they try to get everyone to join them.

Suddenly everyone's an expert. Webmasters quickly write articles about how coffee cures cancer and helps to eliminate world hunger - ok, well maybe they didn't say that, but believe me, some of the stuff I've read online will make you percolate too.


So, here we now have scientific studies "proving to us that coffee has antioxidants. Researchers have identified several compounds in coffee that create a coffee antioxidant. Why would this be of interest to us? Because scientific studies are showing that antioxidants may help prevent cancer. You see the connection here.

Coffee has Antioxidants = Coffee cures cancer. (WRONG)

However, until human studies are done, science cannot state exactly how much coffee must be consumed in order gain this protection against colon cancer or any other type of cancer. I read this one article about studies on how they took human intestines and well you don't wanna know. Anyway, they mention the colon caner thing in that study.

In all the reading that I have done I still find that there is conflicting information. The thing about the Internet is this - just because it is written online, doesn't mean it's based on truth or fact.

Before the coffee is roasted the antioxidant benefits are varied. However, once the coffee is roasted and served as a drink things get evened out. They all seem to have the same degrees of antioxidants.

Some studies suggest coffee having other benefits such as added fertility in men and some benefits for those suffering from diabetes. You'll have to read those studies on your own. It's far too much garbled scientific goop for me to repeat here.

Here's the problem with all this information. The translation from scientific research to a commonly read article is not easily done. Imagine if you had to translate a story from its original language using only a dictionary for both languages. Somewhere along the line things are going to be misinterpreted.

The fact that a coffee antioxidant exists may be true, but the reality is that coffee can be just as harmful if your body doesn't like it, if you consume too much, if you have high blood pressure, and if it keeps you awake at night.

So, what do I know now that I've read far too many science studies and online articles?

Is there truly a coffee antioxidant? Yes, but the actual amount needed to be consumed in order to receive the anti-cancer benefits by humans is unknown.

How exactly is coffee an antioxidant? Coffee alone isn't the antioxidant, it's several different components that are part of the coffee bean. Roasting and heating the coffee changes the total antioxidant output.

Does it become the antioxidant when it's heated? It seems that although some coffee beans like green coffee beans may be higher in antioxidants that other more common beans, once they are roasted and heated for consumption, the results are the same regarding the antioxidantal benefits.

Does the coffee antioxidant benefit everyone? Honestly, this is NOT a question easily answered. In fact, the truth is it is still unknown just how beneficial coffee antioxidants are for humans.

Are there still dangers to drinking coffee? Yes, of course there is. If you have high blood pressure and you have seen how coffee enhances this problem, you know it's bad for YOU personally. If you can't get proper sleep or you drive everyone around you nuts because you can't sit still or shut-up, you know coffee is bad for you. Use common sense and listen to your body. Coffee is not good for everyone and unknown just how good for anyone.

How much coffee is good for us and when does it become bad for us? Again - drink coffee in moderation, pay attention to your own body. Exercise and good eating habits are a far better way to get healthy than drinking 10 cups of cappuccino a day.

All things in moderation. After reading everything about this new thing called a coffee antioxidant I have decided that there are better ways of getting antioxidants into my blood. Coffee may have many benefits, but so does water and it is possible to drown from drinking too much water. Yes, I know, you have to really drink a lot to accomplish this, but it's the principle of the matter. Too much of anything is not a good thing.

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