In part two of my in-depth look at how coffee affects our health, I dip into various substances that float in the “black water” that is beloved the world over. In many ways, these substances help make coffee one of the world’s food cures and focus of so many health breakthroughs. Please excuse some of the technical terms, but they are what they are:
1. Chlorogenic Acid
Coffee drinking represents the richest source of chlorogenic acid for humans. In a seven-ounce cup of coffee, the amount of chlorogenic acid ranges from 70 to 350 milligrams (mg). Chlorogenic acid is a potent antioxidant. Over 65% of ingested chlorogenic acids are metabolized in the large intestine, forming two metabolites — caffeine and quinic acid — that also have antioxidant activity. In a study published in 2006, the authors concluded that coffee “may inhibit inflammation and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other inflammatory diseases in postmenopausal women.”
Coffee diterpenes “cafestol” and “kahweol” found in unfiltered coffee brews (popular with coffee drinkers in Norway and Sweden), but not in filtered coffee brews (popular in Italy and the U.S.) have been shown to raise blood levels of cholesterol, triacylglycerols, and liver enzymes. The process of filtering removes most of these chemicals from 12 mg per cup to 0.4 mg a cup. So, filtered coffee is clearly the way to go.
Polyphenols are known to have major health-promoting effects in people. Coffee is a rich source of polyphenols. In fact, coffee was found to account for 50% of the daily total polyphenol intake in a Japanese study.
There are several micronutrients in coffee that could contribute to its impact on human health: vitamin E; niacin; potassium; and magnesium. In an eight-ounce brewed coffee, there are seven mg of magnesium; whereas, one ounce of espresso has 24 mg of magnesium. On the other hand, an eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 116 mg of potassium; whereas, one ounce of espresso has 34 mg. One cup of coffee can provide one to three mg of nicotinic acid. The amount of vitamin E in one cup of coffee amounts to 0.1% of the recommended dietary allowance.