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Antioxidants in Coffee

Coffee is admittedly the most popular drink in the United States. The National Coffee Association found in 2000 that 54% of the adult population of the United States drinks coffee daily and 18.12% of the coffee drinkers in the United States drink gourmet coffee beverages daily. In addition to the 54% who drink coffee everyday, 25% of Americans drink coffee occasionally. That number has increased significantly over the last seven years.

A recent study, headed by a chemist at the University of Scranton and funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute, found that Americans get their major dose of antioxidants through their high consumption of coffee.

The study analyzed over 100 food and beverages, measuring the levels of antioxidants in each dietary source, including antioxidants that are hidden in sugar molecules. After finding the levels of antioxidants, the researchers compared their data to the U.S. government statistics on food and beverage consumption. What they found was that coffee is the main source of antioxidants in the American diet and that most of the antioxidants from coffee are hidden in sugar molecules.

While Americans received most of their antioxidants from coffee, black tea, bananas, beans and corn, other foods showed a much higher level of antioxidant content. Red grapes, cranberries, blueberries and dates were at the top of the list of high antioxidant foods, though the U.S. Dept of Agriculture statistics did not show Americans consuming as much of these foods.

While some researchers have linked coffee to diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, other studies have shown coffee to protect against disease. Research has shown coffee consumption to protect against colon, liver and Parkinsonís disease, as well as type 2 diabetes.

Some experts are arguing that more research needs to be done. They are claiming that antioxidant studies on certain foods, does not necessary convert into antioxidants received by the body. Although the process of antioxidant utilization is still being understood, many claim that health benefits can only be measured through the absorption of these foods into the body, not by measuring their antioxidant levels before digestion.

While the prospect of coffee being a healthy beverage is exciting, researchers still recommend that people eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, to get the wide variety of nutrients and vitamins they need to stay healthy and protect themselves against disease.

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