Antioxidants, free radicals and roasted coffee

The fruit of a tropical plant called the coffee tree contains beans that areprocessed and roasted to eventually become one of theworld's most popular beverages - coffee. The popularity of drinking coffee means there is a high global demand for this beverage. This has made a cup of coffee common and readily available.


Each coffee bean contains a multitude of antioxidants. These occur naturally in coffee in the form of phenolic compounds. One such substance is an ester of caffeic acid called chlorogenic acid. Coffee contains 6-10% chlorogenic acid. The percentage varies depending on the type of coffee.

Green coffeeitself contains a large amount of antioxidants which are, one could say,activated by roasting. However, theroasting process must be controlled, as improper roasting can destroy the antioxidants in the coffee. Light to medium roasting is suitable. Dark roasting burns these components, not to mention the formation of carcinogens in such dark coffee.


If you make a cup of coffee from just 10g of beans roasted properly, it can contain up to about 300mg of chlorogenic acids. Compared to other antioxidant-laden foods, there are22 mmol of these compounds in a 100g of coffee, compared to 9 mmol in the same amount of blueberries and 8 mmol in chocolate.

The average consumption of roasted coffee beans for coffee preparation is about 15 g per 250 ml cup of coffee. So we can imagine thattwo cups of coffee are delivering as many antioxidants as a handful of blueberries or a quarter of a bar of chocolate.


However, coffee has also taken the lead in the list of foods with the greatest antioxidant benefits because of its popularity. After all ,it's more common to have two cups of coffee than a bowl of blueberriesevery day . The best solution is to have both.

Antioxidants are many and also their exact effect is slightly different. With a balanced diet rich in sources of antioxidants, you will ensure your body gets enough of them and with a wide range of their effect. But how do they work and why are they so important?


Coffee, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables are not the only sources of antioxidants for our bodies. Better said, they are secondary. Our body naturally produces its own antioxidants. However, the ones we take into our bodies from the outside are just as important. They help to increase our own antioxidants so that they are not at a disadvantage against free radicals.

Free radicals are the reason we need antioxidants. To clarify, afree radical is an unstable molecule that carries an unpaired electron. Such a molecule is very reactive. Simply put, it's a molecule that has lost one electron and now wants it back. So it reacts with other molecules that are around to take their electron.


By tryingto deprive other molecules of an electron, it damages them. If it succeeds in its efforts to get the electron, thedamaged "robbed" molecule becomes a free radical itself. So it tries again to retrieve the lost electron from other molecules. This is called achain reaction.

How to stop this chain of damaged molecules, atoms and cells? By counteracting the free radicals with antioxidants. Becausesuch an antioxidant has one extra electron. When we have enough antioxidants in our body, they can keep an eye on free radicals and stop their destruction. They give them their electron.


The battle between antioxidants and free radicals is like a classic tale of good versus evil. So the message is: get enough antioxidants, which you supplement with fruit, vegetables, chocolate and, of course, coffee. Then you'll have a sufficient army of saviours for naughty molecules with a missing electron. Well, but what's the cause, where do those free radicals come from?

They arise naturally and directly in our bodies during the processes of metabolism - metabolization and energy production. The best known of the free radicals is ROS (reactive oxygen species) or reactive oxygen species and they are produced in the respiratory chain.


Inaddition to these free radicals, which we create ourselves as a result of the normal functioning of our bodies, other free radicalsenter our bodies from external sources. These are mainlynegative environmental influences, cigarette smoke, drugs, alcohol, pesticides, improper diet, diseases or, on the contrary, certain medications. Stress, sunlight and too much or too littleexercise also significantly increase the amount of free radicals in the body.


The momentyou promote free radicals in your body by your lifestyle and at the same time do not provide your body with enough antioxidant-rich foods, you get into so-called oxidative stress. That is, a state in whichfree radicals are overwhelming your body and your antioxidants are no longer enough to deal with them.

When free radicals are not stopped, they cause aggressive attacks on other previously "healthy" molecules. They react with them, causing biological corrosion, or oxidation. This disruption of the body leads to diseases such as:

  • Cancer,
  • stroke,
  • cataracts,
  • Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease,
  • also causes aging.


Free radicals succeed in attacking mainly the lipids that make up cell membranes. It is at these sites that free radicals accumulate. Eventually, they can damage the cell membrane. This leaky and fragile cell membrane breaks down, causingthe death of the cell. Even our DNA may not escape oxidation. When it is disrupted, DNA mutates, resulting in mutagenesis, malignant diseases, tumor formation, or the aforementioned aging.


Antioxidants fight oxidation in the body by various techniques. First, they help repair damaged molecules. They trap heavy metals in our body so that they do not form more free radicals. They also send them out of the body through the urine. They motivate our body to create more antioxidants. They can attach toDNA to form a protective barrier against free radical reactions.

Aparticularly interesting ability of antioxidants is to induce apoptosis. By this we mean programmed cell death, essentially cell suicide. The antioxidant acts on the cancer cell with a chemical substance thatinstructs the cell to destroy itself.


The main difference between antioxidants is their solubility. Some are fat soluble and some are water soluble. Accordingly ,they also act on free radicals that react either in water or in fats. In order to protect our cells from free radicals - both their cell membrane, which is mostly made up of fats, and their watery interior - it is important tohave both types of antioxidants in the body. We do this by taking them from multiple sources.


Supplementing antioxidants is not a nuisance, quite the opposite. As we described at the beginning of the article, just reach for a cup of coffee, which is our most important source of antioxidants. Then look for vitamins with antioxidant effects, especially vitamin A, B6, C, E. Also zinc, selenium and coenzyme Q10.

Spirulina and Chlorella are also sources of antioxidants. An interesting solution is to absorb electrons by walking barefoot or so-called "air vitamins", which are naturally produced, for example, during storms, waves, waterfalls or cosmic rays.

Foodstuffs include mainly fruits - berries, apples, cherries and pomegranates. Vegetables are mainly tomatoes, carrots and artichokes. Dried fruits, acai, goji and walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts are excellent sources of antioxidants . Don't forget to use herbs andspices - oregano, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric. Also, by eating sprouts (such as peas) and drinking not only coffee but also organic tea, you are increasing your body's antioxidant defenses.


However ,free radicals and antioxidants must also be balanced. The negative effects of oxidative stress and therefore a large amount of free radicals in the body can have catastrophic consequences for our bodies. As they say that everything bad is good for something, free radicals can help us in many ways.

Our body, specifically our white blood cells, can harness the offensive power of free radicals to fight certain viruses and bacteria that invade our body. Furthermore, these reactive molecules help to get pregnant. Precisely by weakening the cell wall, they allow easier passage of sperm and subsequent conception.