Coffee and Antioxidants
Do you start your day with a cup of coffee? If you are in the United States and answer yes to this question, then you are not alone. It is estimated that around 4 out of every 5 adults drink coffee in an average day. With an average amount of 1.6 cups of coffee a day, that adds up to a lot!
People primarily drink coffee for the caffeine boost. Making individuals quicker witted and more able to engage throughout their day, coffee can provide a noticeable performance increase. However, there is a growing body of research that is arguing that coffee has other benefits as well. Chief among the claims being made is that coffee is a fantastic source of antioxidants.
Does coffee have antioxidants in them? Let’s answer this question directly and then describe why it may be a little more complicated than you think.
The Short Answer
Yes, coffee does have antioxidants in it. You get these antioxidants when you drink coffee. You also get them when you take a caffeine pill as well.
The Long Answer
Coffee does have antioxidants in it. However, the amount of antioxidants in coffee is nothing surprising. You see, all foods you eat have some for of antioxidants in them. Typically, the amount is relatively small. In an average American diet, coffee comes out as the leading source of antioxidants in a person’s diet.
With research showing this, many news outlets have proclaimed that coffee is a ‘miracle source’ for antioxidants. However, the truth is that our diets are pretty crummy. There are many fruits and vegetables out there that have higher antioxidant levels and require less consumed to get the same effect. While coffee most certainly contains antioxidants, it is not the only source available to you and by far is not the best source you can get your hands on.
There are many foods that have higher levels of antioxidants in them that we shouldn’t eat. Consider for a moment processed cheese and frosted strawberry pop-tarts. Both are not considered that good for us, but both have higher than average antioxidants. The simple point is that antioxidants should never be the only consideration when you are figuring out what to eat and drink. This includes coffee.
So then, is coffee worth drinking? If you are looking for a sole source of antioxidants, then the answer is no. However, coffee can be used as but one part of a larger diet where you get antioxidants from a range of sources. You should also consider drinking coffee for some of the other benefits it provides. Beyond simply perking you up and providing antioxidants, coffee can help you in more ways than you might be aware.
For example, studies have shown that there is decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease and even colon cancer among those who drink coffee. In addition, liver cancer and Type-2 Diabetes risk are also both reduced when drinking coffee. The magnesium found in coffee can help to regulate blood sugar levels in the body, decreasing the risk of things like heart attacks and strokes.
At the same time, consuming coffee is not without its risks. There are several caffeine related side effects that you should be aware of. For example, caffeine can cause heart palpitations. It can lead to nervousness and irritability. High blood pressure and osteoporosis can even occur if you drink too much coffee. While coffee is not your only source of caffeine throughout the day, it is a major one that you will want to consider when planning a healthy and happy diet.
Where Does That Leave Us?
In summary, coffee does indeed have antioxidants, which help our body maintain its health. However, it is not the only source for antioxidants available to us, and is frequently cited as a ‘super drink’ for no other reason than the average American diet does not include antioxidant rich products in what they eat.
While there are some side effects to drinking coffee, the boost provided by the caffeine and the range of benefits highlighted in research points towards coffee consumption being great for a whole host of reasons. Ultimately, whether or not you partake is up to you.