Coffee drinkers will be full of beans today after a study, carried out in Switzerland, showed that their favourite beverage is a source of health-boosting antioxidants.
The study, carried out by the Lausanne-based Nestlé Research Centre, compared green tea, cocoa, herbal teas and coffee, and found that coffee contained four times more antioxidants than green tea.
Antioxidants reduce the effects on the human body of harmful substances known as free radicals, which are believed to be a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts and decline of the immune and nervous system.
The study said antioxidant activity was greatly influenced by the method of preparation of a cup of coffee, which would lead to a considerable difference in the amount ingested in different countries.
One cup of coffee prepared by consumers in the United States contained 0.7 per cent soluble coffee, compared to 1.7 per cent for Swiss drinkers and two per cent in France. The antioxidant activities were not affected by the addition of milk.
The research was carried out in test tubes and further studies would be needed to verify any potential health benefits.
Claims and counter-claims about the dangers and advantages of coffee are almost as old as the drink itself.
Coffee, and the caffeine it contains, has been blamed for many health problems, including stress-related heart disease. A 15-year study of 20,000 people in Finland concluded that people who drank excessive amounts of coffee were more vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis.
On the other hand, United States researchers discovered that men drinking four or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had the lowest risk of developing gallstones.
Meanwhile, a seven year study of 11,000 people in Scotland found that people who drink coffee are less likely to suffer heart disease than tea drinkers. The finding undermined research showing increased benefits with tea drinking.
swissinfo with agencies