Are you drinking a lot of coffee? Then you could suffer from health complaints such as anxiety, heart palpitations and insomnia. But drinking coffee in moderate quantities, can offer some welcome health benefits -- including slashing the risk of definite cancers. It may even lower the chance of developing dementia.
Now scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have figured out much of the complex chemistry behind coffee's outstanding health benefits. And the healthiest kind of coffee blend appears to be the dark roasted variety of java.
The new study, headed by Yazheng Liu and David Kitts, is set for publication in the journal Food Research International. The UBC research team discovered that when green coffee beans are browned under high temperatures, a chemical process occurs known as the Maillard reaction which lots dark roasted coffee with protective antioxidants.
It turns out that the roasting process itself releases coffee antioxidants. This is important because antioxidants protect cells from destroy caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. And free radical destroy may lead to cancer and other chronic diseases.
"Previous studies suggested that antioxidants in coffee could be traced to caffeine or the chlorogenic acid present in green coffee beans, but our results clearly show that the Maillard reaction is the main source of antioxidants," Liu, a graduate student in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS), said in a media statement.
The Maillard reaction is named after early 20th century Spanish chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who pioneered study in to how heat affects the carbohydrates, sugars and proteins in food, such as when meat is grilled or bread is toasted. In the work of the heating process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created that, in turn, break down to form even more compounds. Each type of food has a unique set of these compounds that are created in the work of the Maillard reaction.
The scientists found that men who consumed the most coffee had a 60 percent lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than men who were not coffee drinkers and concluded the plenty of biologically active natural compounds in coffee, including antioxidants, could describe the lowered risk of the most serious forms of prostate cancer in coffee drinkers.
So drinking the dark roasted variety could increase the health benefits of java -- benefits which include possibly stopping definite cancers. For example, in the first study of its kind, Harvard researchers historicallyin the past noted a powerful link between drinking coffee as well as a lowered chance of men developing the most deadly and aggressive forms of prostate cancer.