Do you look forward to that first glorious sip of coffee each and every morning?
Does the aroma wafting through your home as you brew your first cup of the day bring you joy?
As you sip, does the bold and smooth flavor of your preferred brew bring a calm over you, evoking possibly the first smile of the day?
While those pleasures are grand, hitting home for most anyone who enjoys a truly great cup of coffee, do you ever think past your mug?
The aroma, it is heavenly. The flavor, divine. But, what happens within your body after you’ve enjoyed each and every cup of coffee?
Chances are, at some point, you’ve heard something of the health benefits of your brew. And, in all seriousness, when we think about how coffee can benefit many different areas of the body, bringing health and life to your organs as well as your body systems and their functioning…that just makes each sip that much more pleasant!
Well, for the most part, the many health benefits associated with coffee come from the fact that this beloved brew is loaded with powerful antioxidants.
Some studies even show coffee to be one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the human diet…all the more reason to pour another cup, right?
Hmmmm, sounds like a good idea to me! So, let’s all pour a cup and enjoy it together as we explore the antioxidants found in coffee and how each category of these health boosters benefits the body!
What Are Antioxidants?
Before we explore the specific antioxidants found in coffee, we need to establish some facts:
- What are antioxidants?
- What role do antioxidants play regarding your health?
Antioxidants are types of molecules found in your body.
Naturally, your body already contains some antioxidants, but the healthy foods/beverages you consume, namely coffee, contain them as well.
Antioxidants work to fight free radicals, another type of molecule.
These molecules, free radicals, can serve your body in positive ways, aiding in immune cell functioning, for instance. But, they can also wreak havoc in large quantities.
You see, free radicals contain oxygen and an unbalanced number of electrons.
And, due to their uneven number of electrons, free radicals are somewhat volatile, meaning they can easily react with other molecules, causing large chain chemical reactions in the body, which can cause oxidation.
Oxidation then damages molecules that are crucially important to your cells, like DNA and proteins that are responsible for multiple processes within the body.
Too much of this damage then leads to a state of oxidative stress, where your cells can malfunction or die.
Oxidative stress can occur naturally, a byproduct of normal metabolic processes.
But, some lifestyle factors play a large role in contributing to this kind of damage as well, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, poor diet, lack of exercise, even too much exercise (overtraining).
A prolonged state of oxidative stress is believed to play a large role in premature aging, and it’s linked to chronic inflammation, an increased risk of cancer, and other life-threatening diseases.
Antioxidants, through their ability to fight against this damage caused by free radicals, can basically reduce oxidative stress, keeping you healthy…and alive.
The Antioxidant Profile of Coffee
When it comes to coffee, we’re not talking simple antioxidant content, we’re talking impressively powerful antioxidant content!
Though your thoroughly enjoyed cup of joe technically is said to rank 11th on the list of the best foods and beverages containing antioxidants, those foods ahead of coffee (such as several types of berries) generally aren’t consumed in large enough quantities to rival the amount of antioxidants consumed through the several cups of coffee folks enjoy daily.
In some European countries, coffee has actually been identified as the single biggest antioxidant source in diets, providing 64% of the daily antioxidant intake for most folks.
In comparison, coffee has more antioxidants than red wine and both black and green teas.
Broadly speaking, of those antioxidants found in coffee, most experts place these free radical fighters into two categories: hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols.
Hydrocinnamic acids are micronutrients which are said to contain the most active antioxidant properties found in coffee. These work by neutralizing free radicals, which prevents oxidative stress.
Polyphenols are plant compounds, and while they also neutralize free radicals to prevent oxidative stress, these antioxidants are known to specifically prevent diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
However, looking more closely, here are a few specific antioxidants found in coffee:
Chlorogenic & Caffeic Acids - These polyphenols aid in the development of healthy microbes within the intestines (or gut).
Cafestol - Even decaf coffee contains this antioxidant, which acts as a bile acid modulator in your intestines and has been linked to reducing inflammation in the brain.
Trigonelline - This compound is why coffee can taste bitter, and it’s partly responsible for the aroma of java.
While present in highest quantities in lighter roasts, this antioxidant is said to have antibacterial properties, even helping to prevent dental cavities.
Caffeine - Caffeine as an antioxidant is debatable, but the benefits of caffeine in coffee are not: weight loss, reducing occurrence and duration of headaches, diabetes prevention, and more.
Some experts believe the link to many of coffee’s disease and health concern fighting abilities lies in caffeine as an antioxidant, though many still believe more research is needed to conclude this connection.
Melanoidins - The primary reason for the pleasant aroma and the beautiful brown color of your brew are due to nitrogenous compounds in coffee called melanoidins. These are formed during the roasting process and bring both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to your cup of joe.
Health Benefits of Antioxidants
Now that we’ve seen the science, what’s in it for you?
The antioxidant content of coffee, when you consume this delicious beverage regularly as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, translates to the following potential benefits to your health:
1- Reduces Inflammation
As antioxidants work to reduce oxidation and oxidative stress caused by free radical damage, this reduces the amount of inflammation within your body.
Oxidative stress is highly linked to chronic inflammation, a precursor for multiple health concerns and life threatening diseases, so as antioxidants keep free radical damage at bay, inflammation decreases.
Studies have shown that drinking coffee is connected to a reduced risk of death, overall.
As free radical damage that has run amuck in your body can lead to premature aging, inflammation, and disease, it’s no wonder that the damage combatting properties of antioxidants would play a role in reducing your risk of death.
3- Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease
At this point, this seems like a simple math problem, right?
Too many free radicals cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress leads to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to chronic disease.
Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, which reduces inflammation, thereby reducing your risk of disease.
The most notable diseases that seem to benefit from antioxidants are some cancers, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes.
In regards to cancer, studies have shown some of the polyphenols in coffee to have anticarcinogenic effects.
With type 2 diabetes, as antioxidants prevent tissue damage, reduce inflammation, and protect insulin producing cells, the threat of this disease is diminished.
4- Protection Against Cognitive Decline
As we mentioned earlier, some experts include caffeine in the antioxidant-containing category.
With coffee containing caffeine and caffeic acids, these bioactive compounds are said to be why coffee is linked to boosts in short term memory as well as protecting against overall cognitive decline, specifically decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
5- Boosts Heart Health
As heart disease is often found to be a result of chronic systemic inflammation, the antioxidants in coffee are said to reduce those types of inflammation specifically associated with heart disease, namely protecting against damage incurred in the arteries due to inflammation.
6- Improves Liver Health
Also associated with the antioxidant benefits in regards to inflammation, here as liver health is compromised from chronic inflammation, the antioxidant properties in coffee are linked to reductions here, even lowering elevated liver enzyme levels as well.
7- Goodbye Gout
The antioxidants in coffee are also said to reduce your risk of gout, because as they decrease insulin, uric acid levels also decrease, reducing the likelihood of developing gout.
8- Combats Premature Aging
Aging occurs as a result of free radical damage, both that which happens naturally as well as through lifestyle factors.
By fighting against the damage caused by free radicals, antioxidants prevent premature aging, even in noticeable ways, relieving the damage caused by ultraviolet rays to the skin.
The Coffee Caveat
Unfortunately, not all coffee is created equal, so if you want to reap the antioxidant rewards of this delicious brew, then there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Coffee can be acidic, which can lead to gastrointestinal concerns.
- Pesticides and fertilizers are often used when growing low-quality coffee. And, the use of these chemicals has been linked to numerous health concerns such as nerve damage, an increased risk of cancer, skin irritations, and reproductive issues.
- Where and how coffee is grown, as well as how the beans are processed, makes all the difference in whether or not the coffee you’re drinking contains mycotoxins, nasty byproducts of molds that can be present in coffee which are linked to chronic illness.
- If your daily cup of joe contains sugary syrups, artificially flavored creamers, and just about any extras and additives you can imagine, no matter how healthy your beans are, these additions can harm your health.
The key to gaining the amazing antioxidant benefits of coffee that we’ve outlined in this article comes down to choosing a good, clean, quality brew.
So, let’s take a look at those hindrances mentioned above, and see how Lifeboost measures up:
- Lifeboost coffee is low acid. The pH level of our dark roast, for instance, is 6 (or higher), almost as alkaline as water. By comparison, most conventional coffee has an acidic pH of 4.85 or lower. One sentiment we commonly hear from our customers is that Lifeboost is the only coffee they can drink that doesn’t result in stomach issues. And, one reason for this is due to acidity levels.
- All Lifeboost coffee is also single origin, meaning we never use blends. And, our beans are also processed and roasted in the same manner, meaning you’re getting the highest quality in each and every selection we offer.
- Lifeboost coffee is both mountain and shade grown. This not only negates the use of pesticides and fertilizers, allowing the native flora and fauna to work with and for our coffee plants, but it also means that our beans mature at a slower rate, resulting in a more dense, flavorful, and nutrient-rich (antioxidants, anyone?) bean.
- And, if this wasn’t enough, all Lifeboost coffee is 3rd party tested for mycotoxins. Because of the detriment mycotoxins can bring to our health, we are intentional in each step of our process to ensure none of these harmful elements reach your mug!
- Our coffee plants are grown in a shaded mountain canopy, the first step that ensures minimal mycotoxin presence in our coffee from the very start.
- Then, our coffee is prepared using a wet and dry process (with variations) to avoid mycotoxins during processing.
- After the coffee has been washed, the beans are pulped (their outer covering is removed) where they then dry in the sun for a few days as an extra measure to ensure any molds or mycotoxins are eliminated.
- Our rigorous health and quality standards then demand the coffee to be lab tested prior to roasting. And, these tests look for quality, molds, moisture content, consistency, etc.
- Then, when our coffee is roasted, any mycotoxins (and the bacteria, molds, and fungi they may have generated) are effectively eliminated.
- Each shipment of Lifeboost coffee is then tested again by the Agricultural Department before it is ever allowed to leave the country. If any mycotoxin presence is detected, the coffee is not shipped.
- And lastly, while we can’t control what you add to Lifeboost coffee (sugars, artificial sweeteners, additive-laden creamers, etc), we can personally attest, in line with the reviews and sentiments of our customers, that the flavor of Lifeboost is incredible even without the additions many are accustomed to using in their morning (or afternoon, or all day) cup.
But, if you want to boost the antioxidant content of your Lifeboost brew to even greater heights, consider adding any of the following antioxidant-rich spices: ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, maca, or cacao.