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The science behind why coffee is so damn good for you

19 February 2016 | Added by Paul Bilkey

A while back, there were some killjoys out there who would suggest that a cup of coffee wasn’t good for you. Fortunately, science has driven these non-believers into the decaffeinated wilderness. Coffee is good for you, and forever will it be known to be true.

A new study has revealed just what makes that cup worth drinking.

Since our launch, we here at Techly have been at the forefront of the Australian coffee journalism scene.

We discussed how and why coffee makes you poo, clued you in on the right time of day to drink coffee (it’s later than you’d think) and told you how much you should drink per day (it’s more than you’d think).

We also broke down the psychology of drinkers of black coffee (they’re prone to craziness) and got to the bottom of the story about the elderly lady who sued McDonald’s because the coffee was hot (it was so hot her skin fell off).

So it’s safe to say we know what’s hot when it comes to the black stuff.

But what makes that cup of steaming hot roasted bean water so good for us?

The new research was important because coffee is so complex – with over 1000 individual chemicals in every cup – that even where it is known to have a positive effect, it is hard to determine what exactly causes it.

Case in point – the manner in which coffee cleans out your bowels. As we discussed a while back, scientists know that one or more of the combinations of chemicals in coffee is responsible, but it is difficult to determine exactly which combination it is.

What the study determined is that the most beneficial components of a cuppa are some that we’ve probably heard of, and a few that we haven’t. The four-piece assault on bad health in each cup of coffee (should) include: caffeine, chlorogenic acid, trigonelline and diterpenes – primarily kahweol and cafestol.

Caffeine’s benefits are well known – concentration, reduced fatigue, boosting metabolism – but the study also indicated long-term memory improvement.

Chlorogenic acids provide a range of health benefits, including reducing risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, along with an anti-inflammatory effect. Kahweol and cafestol help battle cancer cells, along with giving coffee its bitter taste.

And trigonelline is something of a wonder chemical, with the study showing it helps in “protecting the brain from damage, blocking cancer cells from moving around, combating bacteria, and lowering blood sugar and total cholesterol”.

Take that, wheatgrass.

Of the two most prominent types of beans on the market – robusta and arabica – the amount of these chemicals vary. Robusta has more chlorogenic acids and caffeine. Arabica beans – the world’s most popular coffee bean – have more trigonelline and natural sugars.

As it happens, this is just Part 1 in exploring coffee’s delicious goodness.

In Part 2 we will go into how the coffee preparation process, including brewing and roasting, can give you even more health bang for your bean. And we will also discuss why not every cup of coffee is created equal – from a health standpoint.

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