Is coffee making us healthier and live longer?

Every morning, you and billions of other people all over the world start the day with the fragrant, delicious cup of coffee. Whether you are drinking cappuccino, latte, espresso, ca phe trung or a quick cup of Folgers depends on your taste and where in the world you woke up. You drink it for the flavor, for the strong kick of energy you need to jumpstart your day, but increasingly you drink your daily java for its health benefits. Most people know about the caffeine in coffee, the part of the magic bean that wakes them up in the morning and keeps them awake at night when they are preparing for that important exam. But, we are learning that coffee is responsible for our better health and longer life. Coffee has more than 1000 active ingredients and is the richest dietary source of antioxidants.

Coffee and its 1500 active ingredients

Humans have been drinking coffee in its more or less present form since the 15th century when African traders brought the green beans to Yemen. Once folks figured out that, when roasted and soaked in water, coffee beans make a flavorful drink, it quickly spread around the world, to become the second-favourite drink after tea. For the longest time, we drank coffee for its flavour and for its caffeine content – as a powerful stimulant. But, in recent years scientists started investigating other benefits of coffee, since the modest bean contains about 1500 active chemicals. The number varies depending on the method used for the analysis, but also on the way coffee is prepared. For an authoritative source of information on the ingredients in coffee, you can also check the famous Dr.Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database All these ingredients affect our health in one way or another, good or bad. Some are more important than others. Coffee is proving to be enormously important for the prevention and control of liver diseases. It is also rich in a number of antioxidants, which means a broad range of health benefits.

Coffee did not always have good reputation. Until recently, it was considered harmful and only in its June 2016 report, the WHO (World Health Organization) removed coffee from the list of possibly carcinogenic foods. In the full reversal of the coffee reputation, it is now believed that it might protect against liver and uterine cancer.  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is produced by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture declared that three to five cups of coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet. 

This new improved reputation of coffee is the result of a large number of scientific studies into the effects of particular coffee bioactive ingredients.

What is in coffee?

Caffeine

Caffeine is the main reason why we love our morning brew and why the world produces over sixteen billion pounds of it every year. It is a psychoactive compound, a methylxanthine alkaloid. Caffeine works by blocking the effect of adenosine on its receptors. Adenosine is the chemical that makes us drowsy. Caffeine also stimulates some parts of our autonomic nervous system.

Diterpenes

Diterpenes are oily substances in coffee know to raise cholesterol.  The two main types are cafestol and kahweol and they are present in Turkish coffee, espresso and other unfiltered coffee. But, before filtering them out, it is important to know that studies show that the diterpenes in coffee are responsible for the activation of UGT enzymes involved in the liver detoxification.

Potassium

At about, a cup of coffee contributes only 116 mg per cup of coffee. We need 4,700 mg daily. Better than nothing, since we need potassium to regulate our fluid balance, nerve signals, muscle contractions, to reduce blood pressure and water retention, prevent osteoporosis, protect against stroke and kidney stones.

Magnesium

A cup of coffee contains about 7 mg. Since our daily requirement is 420 mg for men, 320 mg for women, that is not going to take us far, but since we don't eat enough vegetables, fruit and whole grains, a few cups of coffee can close the gap. Magnesium is one of those minerals we cannot live without – it helps with normal nerve and muscle function, supports our immune system, maintains steady heartbeat, helps keep the bones strong and much more.

Chlorogenic Acid (CGA) 

Chlorogenic acid is the main antioxidant in coffee, associated with lower rates of heart disease and diabetes. Some studies have shown that chlorogenic acid possibly inhibit the absorption of glucose and normalizes insulin levels.

Tocopherols

Tocopherol is a class of fat-soluble compound also known as vitamin E. It is known for its antioxidant activity.

Niacin

Coffee contains 28.173 mg to 0.188 mg per 100g, depending on the way it is prepared. Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. We need 20 mg of niacin per day for normal functioning of our body, and it also might help lower cholesterol, boost brain function and help with arthritis.

Theophylline

Theophylline is a mild stimulant and muscle relaxant. It is synthesized to be used to help with the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. It is mostly found in green coffee.

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