Coffee is associated with various health benefits, from providing protection to the heart to guarding against diabetes; a new study adds a new one: helping to keep the DNA intact.
The authors of the new research found that coffee contributes to a decrease in oxidative damage of white blood cells that also harms DNA. Participants who were fed with a blend rich in active compounds had fewer broken DNA strands in the white blood cells than those who did not consume the mix. In fact, coffee is a drink with a high concentration of bioactive compounds known as chlorogenic acids, which are naturally present in the plant and are also made during the processing of the coffee.
Chlorogenic acids are potent antioxidants. On top of that, they also have anti-inflammatory properties. One of such a chemical known as caffeoylquinic acid (CQA) triggers an increase in the levels of antioxidant enxymes and removes excess molecules of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are normal by-products of metabolism but can cause cell damage if in excess.
The ROS are normally formed in the human body, but if in excess they damage cell proteins, thereby causing breaks in our DNA. The body also has its own inbuilt system with antioxidants but if this does not operate properly, the action of the ROS cannot be brought under control. This type of damage can ultimately lead to cancer as a result of mutations.
To test the effect of coffee on the cellular damage, the researchers made half of their participants consume 750 mL of roasted and blended Arabica coffee brew everyday for 4 weeks and the other half were given 750 mL of water. Otherwise, the volunteers were requested to stick to their usual diet, but they did not take in any other caffeine-containing food item. Their blood was then taken at regular intervals, 2 hours after the consumption of coffee or water.
The results generated revealed that, with time, the level of DNA breaks increased for the control group (those consuming water) and decreased for the coffee-drinkers, with an overall 27 % difference.
The researchers concluded that this apparent positive effect can be considered to be beneficial for our health.