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29 August 2005
Coffee - America's Favorite Source Of Antioxidants

A study presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society by researchers at the University of Scranton claims Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than any other source. The finding that coffee was shown to be the primary source from which most Americans get their antioxidants surprised the researchers. "Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source," said study leader Joe Vinson. Based on serving size and frequency of consumption, "nothing else comes close," he added. Vinson also said that both caffeinated and decaf versions appear to provide similar antioxidant levels.

Not surprisingly, the study was primarily funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute. The fact that coffee came out as the top source for most Americans may also be an indicator of poor dietary habits. Of all the foods and beverages studied, dates actually have the most antioxidants of all based solely on serving size but since dates are not consumed at anywhere near the level of coffee, the medal goes to coffee. Vinson echoed these dietary concerns. "Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from an overall nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber," he said.

And in any case, ramping up your coffee intake may not bring health benefits. Vinson cautioned that high antioxidant levels in foods and beverages don't necessarily translate into levels found in the body. The potential health benefit of these antioxidants ultimately depends on how they are absorbed and utilized in the body, a process that is still poorly understood. Additionally, coffee can make you jittery and cause stomach pains, while some studies have tied it to elevated blood pressure and heart rates.

Vinson says moderation is the key. "One to two cups a day appear to be beneficial," he says. If you don't like coffee, consider drinking black tea, which is the second most consumed antioxidant source in the U.S. diet, he added. Other rankings in the antioxidant stakes were bananas, dry beans and corn - placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively.


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