Evidence suggests that caffeine is a healthful antioxidant

May 5, 2011

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An in-depth analysis of how the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods seems to protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease at the most fundamental levels has been reported by researchers at Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa in Mexico.

The researchers describe evidence that coffee is one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants in the average person’s diet. Some of the newest research points to caffeine (also present in tea, cocoa, and other foods) as the source of powerful antioxidant effects that may help protect people from Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

However, scientists know little about exactly how caffeine works in scavenging free radicals that have damaging effects in the body. And those few studies sometimes have reached contradictory conclusions. So the researchers have developed detailed theoretical calculations on caffeine’s interactions with free radicals.

Their theoretical conclusions are consistent with results that other scientists have reported from animal and other experiments, supporting the hypothesis that caffeine is a source of healthful antioxidant activity in coffee.

Jorge Rafael León-Carmona, Annia Galano, Is Caffeine a Good Scavenger of Oxygenated Free Radicals? The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2011; 115 (15): 4538 DOI: 10.1021/jp201383y