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Black coffee is a little bit healthier

Black coffee is a tiny bit healthier than coffee with creamer or milk, and coffee with milk is a tiny bit healthier again than coffee with creamer. Researchers at the Swiss Nestle Research Center are about to publish an article on the matter in the Journal of Nutrition. Creamer, and to a lesser extent milk, inhibit the body's uptake of the polyphenols in coffee.

Coffee contains many compounds that have a protective effect. An average coffee drinker consumes a few grams of chlorogenic acid for example. Because coffee is such a popular drink in the West, chlorogenic acid constitutes the most important polyphenol group in the western diet.

Chlorogenic acids are esters. They are mostly compounds with ferulic acid and caffeic acid on one side and quinic acid on the other. 5-Caffeoylquinic acid is the main chlorogenic acid in coffee.

In their study, the researchers, who work in the research lab of a multinational that makes a lot of money from coffee and coffee creamers, examined whether how you drink your coffee makes a difference to the uptake of chlorogenic acid polyphenols.

The researchers got 12 subjects to drink 400ml cups of instant coffee. On one occasion the subjects drank black coffee, on another coffee with 10 percent whole milk, and on yet another occasion they drank coffee containing 35 g coffee creamer [NDC] and sugar. Each cup of coffee contained 4 g of instant coffee.

After drinking coffee the researchers measured the concentration of the various components of chlorogenic acid in the subjects' blood. The curves below show the concentration of the total amounts of caffeic acid [CA], ferulic acid [FA] and isoferulic acid [iFA]. As the graphs show, the amounts are highest after drinking black coffee.

Black coffee is a little bit healthier

When the researchers looked at the total amount of chlorogenic acid components they found in the subjects' blood [calculating the area under the curve], they came up with the table below. Although the differences are clear, they are not statistically significant.

Black coffee is a little bit healthier

The researchers' formal conclusion from their study is that it doesn't make that much difference how you drink your coffee. But if they had constructed a similar table from a larger group of test subjects, the results may have been different. It's a little strange that a company as big as Nestle doesn't conduct larger studies, but no doubt there's a good reason. The fact that Nestle earns a fortune from its creamers has nothing to do with it. Because of course industrial researchers don't cook research results to sell more products. Industrial researchers are the most honest researchers in the world!

The proteins in creamer or milk probably attach themselves to the polyphenols in coffee, forming a complex that is difficult for the digestive system to absorb.

J Nutr. 2010 Feb; 140(2): 259-63.

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