Drinking coffee was initiated by the Arabs around the 12th century and since that time the beverage has won people’s hearts. But is it good for us? There has been an on-going squabble on the impact of the beverage on our health. Moderate drinking is completely safe but – not too much of a good thing. What are the benefits and ill effects of the drink? Let’s take a closer look at 4 mysterious substances of a coffee bean – caffeine, polyphenols, trigonelin and oxalic acid.
Caffeine is the core ingredient which makes us awake and … addicted, thanks to its stimulating properties. Like nicotine and many drugs, caffeine is a poison produced by plants in the wild for protection against pests. Moderate dose of caffeine (up to 400 mg per day) for a healthy adult does not affect health. But! Enough is enough. More than 600 mg of caffeine per day can cause feelings of anxiety, insomnia and headaches; in the long run it can even cause cardiovascular diseases or reduce bone mineral density.
Polyphenols (mainly chlorogenic, quinic and coffee acids) in turn, are very beneficial. They have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They also prevent atherosclerosis and reduce the absorption of metals from the diet.
Another precious substance is trigonelin. It transforms into nicotinic acid (vitamin PP) during the grain burning. Vitamin PP is vital for many life processes, such as metabolism, energy production, synthesis of certain hormones and DNA.
Finally, there is oxalic acid. The main source of the oxalic acid in the diet are plant products and it’s also the final product of metabolism. The oxalic acid unfortunately is not that good as it lowers the level of calcium in the blood as well the use of minerals supplied with food.
Thus, as we can see, coffee is not as bad as it is often presented. It contains some harmful substances but it is balanced with a number of nutritious values. And let’s not forget about the flavor and aroma which more than make up for all the ‘evil’ of the beverage.