Everyone loves their morning cup of joe, and lucky for us, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in U.S. diet. Antioxidants are involved in the prevention of cellular damage, which is the common pathway for cancer, aging, and a variety of diseases. Research suggests a few cups a day can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and prostate cancer.
How can you take advantage of the antioxidant benefits coffee has to offer?
- Pick the right roast
- Store properly
- Brew method
When choosing a roast, choose a light roast
Chlorogenic acids found in coffee beans are responsible for the antioxidant effects of coffee. Roasting green coffee beans transforms chlorogenic acids into better antioxidants. Continual roasting, however, breaks acids down again and the antioxidant benefit is lessened or lost.
Suggestion: go for a light roast, meaning buy light brown coffee beans. If buying already brewed coffee try the Blonde roast from Starbucks.
How can you store coffee properly?
- Store in airtight container;
- Don’t grind beans until ready to brew;
Roasted coffee beans have free radicals. Free radicals pose a danger to us because of the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs. To prevent free radical damage the body has a defense system of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and can stop free radical chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. The body relies on diet (like coffee!) to supply itself with free radical fighting antioxidants.
The more coffee beans are exposed to air, the more free radicals form. Antioxidants in beans, therefore, are being used to fight/ stabilize free radicals. This reduces the amount of beneficial antioxidants available to the drinker.
What is the best brew method?
For the highest levels of antioxidants use stovetop Moka pot, an espresso pot, or a Neapolitan-style pot. One Italian study found that coffee percolated in one of the above ways, was DOUBLE in antioxidants, compared to coffee brewed through paper filter.
Furthermore, try to drink your coffee black with no sugar. Many times coffee drinkers add so much to their cup of coffee, something which starts out healthy, in the end is not. Milk, sugar and other flavorings can reduce the antioxidant levels in coffee. These also add calories and chemicals that take away from coffee benefits. Try adding cinnamon or trying a sweeter flavor roast to cut the bitterness and transition to black coffee.