Coffee cup and saucer on a wooden table. Foam in the form of the heart.

I often take it for granted that everyone is aware that coffee is good for you, a true health promoting disease fighting nectar of the Gods. Let’s be clear early on: coffee is good for you, and within reason, more the better it appears. I have been talking about the various benefits of coffee for at least a decade now, and that was well before I came up with Bomb Proof Coffee (BPC), which only adds additional benefits. Covering all the benefits of coffee is beyond the scope of this article, but one important finding may be the discovery of a key mechanism by which coffee exerts its benefits.

Coffee. Cup of turkish coffee with sugar. Funny face with coffee

A recent study may be why so many studies associate coffee intake with lower rates of disease and reduced mortality rates, in part via protecting our DNA. DNA mutations – due to oxidative damage from chemicals, sunlight, intense exercise, radiation of various types, etc – is a constant challenge to our body. The body can only repair so much damage to DNA, and over time that damage leads to disease such as cancer. The damage tends get worse with age as repair mechanisms become less effective. Coffee contains over 1000 biologically active phenolic compounds, some of which are only now being elucidated.

Side Note: I see people on Face Book posting something like “for this year, I plan to cut back on the caffeine!” Now, caffeine via say energy drinks and coffee are not interchangeable. The effects of energy drinks and coffee are different issues as energy drinks lack all the beneficial counter regulatory compounds found in coffee. Cut back on caffeine by drink less or no energy drinks, but coffee is another animal to energy drinks or the isolated term “caffeine.”

By mechanisms not totally clear, the study reported that drinking 500 ml of freshly brewed, dark roast coffee daily for 4 weeks resulted in a 23% reduction in DNA strand breaks compared to an equal amount of water. This is an amazing finding! There’s been some studies that suggest lighter/medium roast coffees contain higher levels of beneficial compounds, but this study used a dark roast, and while some beneficial compounds are reduced in dark roasts, some beneficial compounds are actually produced during the roasting process, thus, jury is still out as to the optimal roast as it relates to health promoting compounds. Coffee contains higher levels of anti oxidant compounds than red wine, or black and green tea. For those who want to delve into the science, here’s the abstract and a link to the full paper below:

“Consumption of a dark roast coffee blend reduces DNA damage in humans: results from a 4-week randomised controlled study,”

European Journal of Nutrition, 17 November, 2018.

Abstract

Purpose

To determine the DNA protective effects of a standard coffee beverage in comparison to water consumption.

Methods

The single-blind, randomised controlled study with parallel design included healthy women (n = 50) and men (n = 50) recruited from the general Central European population. The subjects were randomised in a coffee and a control group, with stratification for sex and body mass index. The study comprised two periods of 4 weeks: a preconditioning period, with daily consumption of at least 500 ml water but no coffee, nor tea, nor any other caffeine-containing product. During the subsequent intervention period the coffee group consumed 500 ml of freshly brewed dark roast coffee blend per day, the control group consumed water instead. On the last day of each period, blood was drawn and analysed by comet assay (single-cell gel electrophoresis) to assess the level of DNA damage (strand breakage).

Results

At the end of the intervention period the mean level of DNA strand breaks in the coffee group has decreased in comparison to the control group [difference in means 0.23% TI (tail intensity), p = 0.028]. The mean change from baseline (delta value) was − 23% in the coffee group (p = 0.0012). Effects of coffee intake were similar for men and women. During intervention, neither group showed any significant change in body weight or calorie intake.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that regular consumption of a dark roast coffee blend has a beneficial protective effect on human DNA integrity in both, men and women.

Full Paper HERE

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3 Comments
  1. veresi 10 months ago

    How can we believe in one size fit all studies if there are several documents from Harvard, Mayo, etc. that reaction to coffee is very inter-individual, from intolerance to feel good, from liver problems to … For example It is difficult to believe that for group who feel bad after coffee, it will protect their DNA and according to some studies cca 30% of us have some problem metabolising coffee??? Another question is, is the effect of coffee greater than for example green or other tea…

    • Author
      Will Brink 10 months ago

      While there are some inter-individual in how people respond to coffee, I’m not aware of studies showing inter-individual differences as far as the health benefits going in the negative. That is, it may benefit people to varying degrees, I’m aware of no data showing a negative impact on health, so the inter-individual, differences appear to be more on whether people benefit a little or a lot. What liver problems are you referring to? Per article, coffee contains more anti oxidants and other bio active compounds than black and green tea combined, but some differences in what bio active compounds that may contain. Huge piles of data to date indicate coffee is going to benefit most people, and those it would be an actual negative to health (vs a neutral/non effect), would be a very small small group indeed. Those coffee may be contraindicated for is also a very small group, but no doubt exist. For example, some with GERD often advised to avoid coffee.

  2. veresi 10 months ago

    Thanks for answer Will. I am a little bit sceptic, because we are not all the same, and had own experience. I am a coffee drinker, and cca 15 years before had to travel abroad for an army job, and of course they did medical examination. Liver enzymes was abnormal, and doctor told me to lower alcohol consumption ( but I not drink at all). Several years later I met a liver specialist doctor, and he told that in his practice he met lot of patients who had abnormal liver enzymes because of coffee, so I reduced the coffee drinking. After 3 months and control, liver enzymes were OK. Probably there is also hormesis effect, have no idea. We can find thousands of researches that alcohol, coffee or etc., are or can be good for health but also there are infos to be carefull. For me is interesting that there is lot of info on diff. websites that coffee is a liver health miracle, but my own experience is different. It was not any kind of interaction and liver cytochrom p450 problem, because I drink no medication and do not eat food what is heavy to liver. My scepticism is coming from fact that we live our life, not research, and if there is no research about something, it does not mean that it could not happen to someone. Another point, there are for example millions of websites with info ( with research) that wheat and milk are bad, but I lived my first 18 years on wheat bred and milk, without any health problem, and almost no research is saying that modern wheat ( and flour) production with glyphosate and other chemicals are much different than before 30 years, at least in my country, and maybe this is triggering some alergies.

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