Miracle Antioxidant Drink

How many health benefits does a beverage have to possess before you can call it a miracle drink? Imagine there was a unique drink that you could sip in the morning for extra energy and mental clarity while you protect your liver at the same time, AND make your immune system behave properly, AND reduce your risk of depression, AND fight cancer, AND limit your risk of diabetes AND improve your chances of avoiding Alzheimer’s.

But this drink isn’t imaginary.

It’s real.

Surprisingly enough, this antioxidant-rich concoction is not the latest discovery from the supplement industry. It’s the ordinary cup of coffee.

It seems as though at least once a month, medical researchers come up with another reason to drink coffee. One of the most recent studies, performed at the Mayo Clinic, shows that drinking coffee every day reduces your risk of an autoimmune liver problem called primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). This disease affects the liver’s bile ducts, leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Eventually, it causes liver failure and biliary cancer. Coffee makes this disease much less likely.1

The Coffee Pick Up

Of course, coffee is best known for its ability to turn people who are drowsy and sluggish into hard-charging office warriors. Looking into the emotional boost of coffee, researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that the beverage not only seems to perk you up, it also reduces your risk of depression.

A ten-year study of more than 260,000 people found that those who regularly downed the largest quantities of sweetened soft drinks were 30 percent more likely to develop depression than soft drink abstainers.2

But people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to be depressed. (These researchers did not distinguish between regular coffee or decaf.)

“Our research suggests that cutting out or down on sweetened diet drinks or replacing them with unsweetened coffee may naturally help lower your depression risk,” says researcher Honglei Chen.

Coffee’s Antioxidants

At least a portion of coffee’s many observed benefits may be linked to its healthy quantity of antioxidants. Research at the University of Scranton shows that for Americans, coffee represents the largest dietary source of antioxidants.

“Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” says research leader Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at Scranton.

Those antioxidants may be responsible for coffee’s anti-cancer benefits. A study by the American Cancer Society shows that those same four cups of coffee that reduce the risk of depression also significantly reduce the risk of dying from oral/pharyngeal cancer.

In the Society’s 26-year study of almost a million people, the researchers found that folks who drank four cups of coffee daily were only about half as likely to die from these often-fatal cancers as those who never touched coffee.3 In this study, however, the benefits were less strong for those who drank decaf.

“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, and contains a variety of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other biologically active compounds that may help to protect against development or progression of cancers,” says researcher Janet Hildebrand.

Of course, four cups a day is a high level of coffee consumption and could impair your sleep, among other things. Those downsides have to be weighed against the potential benefits.

Next week we’ll explore some of the other remarkable benefits of this unique, nutrient-rich beverage.

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7466.html
  2. http://www.aan.com/globals/axon/assets/10430.pdf
  3. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/12/09/aje.kws222.abstract