What makes that morning whiff of coffee so alluring? It could be your nose telling you, “Drink up - it’s good for you.”
A University of California-Davis chemist found that the beguiling smell of freshly brewed coffee is caused in part by chemicals that form potent cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.
Individually, the chemicals are not potent. But when combined, as in brewed coffee, the activity increases and is comparable to anti-oxidants found in fruits and vegetables.
Takayuki Shibamoto said his study shows chemicals in fresh-brewed coffee might be equal to the amount found in three oranges.
“That’s not a very scientific comparison, but it makes it easier to understand,” said Shibamoto, who presented his findings Monday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Shibamoto cautioned that the chemicals detectable in coffee’s aroma escape rapidly into the air. “You have to drink it in about 20 minutes after it is brewed,” he said.
Shibamoto warned that the research is preliminary, restricted to test-tube analysis. If he gets funding, he hopes to take a look at how animals might be affected by coffee.
Sara Risch, a Chicago-based consultant who has studied anti-oxidants and holds a doctorate in food science, called Shibamoto’s work “an exciting start.”
“The next step is to find out whether there is truly any biological activity - if you take it into an animal system, do we still see the anti-oxidant activity?” she said.
Shibamoto became intrigued by the fact that many of the world’s cultures have been drinking coffee for ages.
“I began thinking there must be some beneficial effect we are getting,” he said.