The Associated Press reports that researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania have determined that coffee provides more healthful antioxidants–substances that are thought to fight cancer and heart disease–than any other food or beverage found in the typical American diet.
Led by chemistry professor Joe A. Vinson, the team analyzed the antioxidant content of 100 popular foods and beverages, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices and oils. Using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture they then figured out how much of each food is typically consumed.
Average adult consumes this many antioxidants daily from:
Coffee (1.64 cups): 1,299 milligrams
Tea: 294 milligrams
Bananas: 76 milligrams
Dry beans: 72 milligrams
Corn: 48 milligrams
“The point is, people are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think,” Vinson told AP in an interview. He was quick to warn that you can’t substitute coffee for fruits and vegetables. “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 added. Some of the leading fruit sources of antioxidants are dates, cranberries and red grapes.
This isn’t the first study to praise the health benefits of coffee. Earlier this year, Japanese researchers reported that people who drink coffee every day or almost every day have half the risk of developing liver cancer, compared with people who never drink it. The protective effect occurred with just one to two cups daily and increased with three to four cups. In addition, Harvard University researchers determined that coffee consumption can decrease by as much as 50 percent in men and 30 percent in women the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Experts warn that coffee should be consumed in moderation, since too much can not only make you jittery but also raise your cholesterol. The study findings were released in conjunction with the annual convention of the American Chemical Society in Washington.
Coffee lovers, raise your steaming mugs (careful now, don’t spill) and say “Cheers!” Coffee may just be the most healthy beverage you can drink, at least if you’re measuring “healthy” by its antioxidant punch.