Coffee: An unexpected health-giving food
A clue to coffee's exceptional antioxidant content is found in its extreme growing environment and harvesting measures. Thought to have originated near the Horn of Africa, the coffee plant grows in some of the hottest and highest regions in the world, often times near the equator. These severe climates force the coffee plant to create formidable antioxidants that protect it from high levels of ultraviolet radiation.
Research has found that medium-roasted coffee preserves the highest bioactive properties of the bean compared with dark coffee. Whether or not the coffee is caffeinated doesn't appear to influence the antioxidant levels.
As it turns out, coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the American diet. Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania notes, "The point is, people are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think." His research team found that a standard adult consumes 1,299 mg of antioxidants daily from coffee compared to 294 mg from tea, the second highest contender. Bananas were next at 76 mg.
Not only is coffee a rich source of antioxidants, it also helps to alleviate other health concerns. Studies have shown that individuals who ingest one to two cups of coffee per day have less depression and anxiety than those who abstain from the beverage. Those struggling with asthma and type II diabetes also showed improvement when coffee was consumed in moderate amounts on a daily basis.
Avoid potential hazard by making informed choices
Coffee is notorious for its toxicity due to dangerous growing practices and chemical processing. A cocktail of harmful substances commonly used on conventional coffee plants include: cypermethrin, diazinon, edosulfan, and methyl parathion. Highly toxic when ingested, these chemicals also endanger the health of coffee harvesters and surrounding wildlife. Roasting further concentrates the poison onto the bean. In many cases, hazardous solvents are used as well to decaffeinate coffee.
To sidestep toxic chemicals while enjoying the healthy benefits, individuals are urged to use only organic beans. For decaf, swiss water processing is a safe alternative to solvents. Enhanced coffee is also available. Extra antioxidants from green tea, pomegranate, grape, acai, and blueberry are infused onto the bean which creates a potent and beneficial brew.
It is important to note that coffee can pose a real threat of addiction along with adrenal fatigue due to the presence of caffeine. These risks can be bypassed by choosing decaffeinated beans.
By practicing sensible moderation and opting for high-quality organic coffee, consumers and health enthusiasts alike can take full pleasure in the health supporting features that this familiar beverage offers.
Photo Credit: Petr Kratochvil