HEALTH BENEFITS OF COFFEE (Part1)

Coffee is relished by millions of people around the world. It is also one of the most widely researched components with respect to diet and lifestyle. Immense research has been conducted to study the impact of coffee on overall physical and mental well-being. In a nutshell, all research results demonstrate that moderate consumption of coffee (typically 3-5 cups per day) fits well with a healthy balanced diet and active lifestyle.

To understand the impact of coffee on mind and body, let us first look at the nutritional breakdown of coffee.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE OF COFFEE

Well, black coffee does not contain any significant macronutrients, fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore, it only provides 1-2kcal per 100ml.

However, the final nutritional profile is influenced by several other factors. These could include addition of sweeteners, sugar, cream or milk to your daily cup of coffee and the variation in the size of the cup. Both these factors could also result in an increase in the calorie content of coffee. A number of micronutrients are present in black coffee.

The table below provides the nutritional profile for 100ml. of medium strength black coffee:

M icronutrient

Composition per 100ml.

Niacin

0.7mg

Riboflavin

0.01mg

Manganese

0.05mg

Magnesium

8mg

Potassium

92mg

S odium

trace

The calcium and magnesium levels are influenced by the kind of water used in the preparation of your cup of black coffee.

THE COMPOUNDS IN COFFEE

Coffee contains a variety of compounds such as caffeine, diterpenes and antioxidants. These compounds not only contribute towards thewell-researched health benefits of coffee but also render it the unique flavor that you crave for.

Caffeine: Caffeine is the most important pharmacologically active compound in coffee. It provides mild stimulation to the central nervous system. Caffeine is naturally found in approximately 60 plant species.Cocoa-beans, tea leaves, kola nuts, and coffee beans are the most well-knownamongst these. In addition to these, caffeine is also a component in a number of over the counter medicines and pharmacological preparations. Most popular carbonated drinks also contain caffeine. If we talk about a typical cup of coffee, it would provide you with approximately 80-100mg. caffeine. Research proves that caffeine has a beneficial impact on mental alertness, physical performance and attention span. However, it must also be mentioned that certain individuals notice adverse effects such as disturbed sleep pattern.

Antioxidants: A variety of compounds possessing natural antioxidant properties are present in coffee. These include melanoidins and chlorogenic acids which can deactivate oxidants, along with N-methylpyridinium, which is known to stimulate cell defense mechanisms. A number of studies have been conducted to demonstrate an elevation in blood antioxidant levels post consumption of coffee. However, this increase cannot be attributed to any specific compound in coffee. This is because it is influenced by a number of factors such as additives including sugar, milk etc., the ratio of coffee to water and level of roasting.

Diterpenes: The diterpenes, kahweol and cafestol, are both naturally found in the oil contained in coffee. The impact of these diterpenes on the body is largely related to the method of brewing. This is because both these compounds are retained in the paper filter in case of filtered coffee, but are able to pass into the brew in case of Scandinavian boiled coffee, Turkish or Greek coffee. These compounds are known to elevate the blood cholesterol levels. However, soluble coffee does not contain any of these cholesterol-raising compounds. 2- 3 cups of espresso also has a negligible effect. Some studies suggest a protective role of diterpenes against some cancers, including colorectal cancer. However, further research is required in this area.

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