New research indicates that coffee not only helps clear the mind and gives you more energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet. Antioxidants are thought to help battle cancer and provide other health benefits. Food experts still stress moderation because too much coffee can make people jittery and even raise cholesterol levels. Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, said "People are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think".
Vinson said he was researching tea and cocoa and other foods such as grains, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables, and decided to study coffee, too. His team analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 different food items, then used Agriculture Department data on typical food consumption patterns to calculate how much antioxidant each food contributes to a person's diet. They concluded that the average adult consumes 1,299 milligrams of antioxidants daily from coffee. The
closest competitor was tea at 294 milligrams. Rounding out the top five sources were bananas, 76 milligrams; dry beans, 72 milligrams; and corn, 48 milligrams. This does not mean coffee is a substitute for fruit and vegetables. "Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from an overall nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber," Vinson said.
Other research has backed up Professor Vinson. In February, a team of Japanese researchers reported that people who drank coffee daily, or nearly every day, had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank it. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups. And last year, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking coffee cut the risk of developing the most common form of diabetes. Men who drank more than six 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by about half, and women reduced their risk by nearly 30 percent, compared with people who did not drink coffee. Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said she was not surprised by Vinson's finding, because tea has been known to contain antioxidants.