Phenolic compounds make up a major portion of compounds in plants, especially in their seeds and green leaves, in an effort to protect them from oxidative damage through their antioxidant activity. Now, its believed that these benefits can be extended to humans as well.
The biological and health effects of coffee have been widely investigated. Coffee contains a significant amount of antioxidants of the hydrocinnamic acids family: chlorogenic acids (CGA), which includes caffeoylquinic acids (CQA) with the main isomers (3-, 4- and 5-CQA), and related compounds such as caffeic acid, ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid; these compounds are the main of the phenolic fraction occurring in green coffee beans.
Roasting noticeably affects the composition of coffee polyphenols through Maillard reaction, some phenolic compounds can be lost; however, new compounds with antioxidants activity are being developed. Indeed, beans that have been roasted under intermediate conditions (medium-roasted coffee) have maximum antioxidant activity.
Coffee is the major source of CGA in human diet, daily intake by coffee drinkers range from 0.5-1.0 g whereas coffee abstainers typically ingest less than 100 mg per day.
A single cup of coffee may contain 70 – 350 mg of chlorogenic acids. Some studies dealing with antioxidant activity of commonly consumed polyphenolic beverages confirmed that 5-CQA is one of the most active fraction against particular oxidative processes. Moreover, the concept of bio availability is being applied to phenolic acids, since they are directly absorbed by human body and this is an essential step to understand their health - promoting properties.
In conclusion, coffee is not only a social engagement of leisure, but also an enhancement of work performance and well being - experimental studies have shown the potential positive effects on health. The latest studies suggest that it may have remarkable abilities in inhibiting the proliferation of certain cancer cells, prevention of Parkinson’s disease and metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes gallstones) as well as the reduction of the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
*Abstract summary courtesy of Dr. Luz Stella Artajo Medina
For more information please contact Dr. Luz Stella who has authored numerous studies on the role of antioxidants in coffee.