WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 Coffee provides more than just a morning jolt; that steaming cup of java is also the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Scranton (Pa.). Their study was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
"Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close," says study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the university. Although fruits and vegetables are generally promoted as good sources of antioxidants, the new finding is surprising because it represents the first time that coffee has been shown to be the primary source from which most Americans get their antioxidants, Vinson says. Both caffeinated and decaf versions appear to provide similar antioxidant levels, he adds.
He cautions that high antioxidant levels in foods and beverages don't necessarily translate into levels found in the body. The potential health benefits of these antioxidants ultimately depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body, a process that is still poorly understood, says Vinson, whose study was primarily funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute.
The news follows a growing number of reports touting the potential health benefits of drinking coffee. It also comes at an appropriate time: Coffee consumption is on the rise in the United States and over half of Americans drink it everyday, according to the National Coffee Association.
Antioxidants in general have been linked to a number of potential health benefits, including protection against heart disease and cancer. For the current study, Vinson and his associates analyzed the antioxidant content of more than 100 different food items, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices, oils and common beverages. The data was compared to an existi