Coffee – America’s Number One Source of Antioxidants

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Did you know that Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee? It’s true, according to U.S. dietary researcher Dr. Joe Vinson from the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Just take a look at the graph Dr. Vinson published. It clearly shows that coffee is our number one source of antioxidants.

His graph is based on per capita consumption and the antioxidant concentration of each type of food or drink. We found this pretty surprising for two reasons: First, we were surprised to discover that we drink that much coffee. Next, we were surprised at the antioxidant power found in a cup of joe.

Now let’s look into the direct evidence for coffee’s antioxidant properties.

Drinking Coffee Decreases Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is one of the leading theories of aging. Environmental toxins are metabolized into highly reactive oxygen compounds known as free radicals. The free radicals can react with normal cellular structures, causing damage and cell death.

This is why antioxidants are so important to us. Antixoxidants are benefical compounds that essentially sacrifice themselves and react with the free radicals, sparing your cells and tissues. So can coffee antoxidants do the same thing? They certainly can.

One dangerous marker of oxidative stress is called isoprostane. The higher the concentration of isoprostane in your blood, the higher the oxidative stress and the greater the risk for cellular damage and death.

As depicted in the graph below, with an increase in cups of coffee per day, there is a linear decrease in the concentration of isoprostane. This ultimately translates into a reduction in oxidative stress and less cell death.10,11

Now, the question is … how much coffee shoud we drink? Let’s take a look at the data.

How Many Cups per Day Should You Drink?

The research shows that drinking coffee is extremely benefical. Of course, the amount of coffee each day that will benefit us varies from person to person. Here’s what the research shows:

  1. One Cup1 - Lowered the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 7%, according to a review of 18 studies covering 500,000 people.

  2. Two Cups2 - Supported a healthy mood and decreased the risk of committing suicide by 60% in a 10-year study of 86,000 women.

  3. Three Cups3 - Maintained healthy liver and gallbladder function. Three cups actually decreased the risk of gallstones by 20% in a study of 127,000 health professionals. However, if you’re pregnant, don’t drink more than two cups a day. More than that and your risk of miscarriage doubles.

  4. Four Cups4,5,6 - Cut the risk of stroke by 43% in women who have never smoked in a study of 83,000 nurses. Not only that, it cut the risk of type 2 diabetes by 25% and lowered diastolic blood pressure.

  5. Five Cups7,8 - The amount of caffeine found in five cups reversed signs of Alzheimer’s disease in lab mice. This animal study prompted researchers in Finland to look at the effects of coffee on Alzheimer’s in people. They found that five cups lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by 65% in 1,400 people.

  6. Six Cups9 - Lowered the risk of advanced prostate cancer in a 20-year study of 50,000 men. This longer study confirmed the results of several smaller studies that hinted at such a risk reduction.

Is a Darker Roast Better?

It’s probably better to drink a lighter roast. Always remember that processing strips nutrients from any product — and that includes coffee. Dark-roasted beans probably have fewer antioxidants than a lighter roast … at least that’s what we think at this time.

So, if you enjoy a darker roast, then you might want to add an additional cup. But for those of us who enjoy a lighter cup of coffee, we are probably getting more antioxidants in a single cup than our darker roast-drinking friends.

Storing Coffee Properly Makes a POWERFUL Difference

Storing your coffee correctly is essential to maintaining freshness and flavor. It’s important to keep it away from excessive air, moisture, heat, and light in order to preserve its fresh-roast flavor as long as possible.

Be sure not to refrigerate or freeze your coffee because contact with moisture will cause it to deteriorate. Instead, store coffee in an airtight glass container and keep it in a cool, dark place. The National Coffee Association, a group that takes coffee drinking to a whole new level, says that a cabinet near the oven or by an outside wall of your kitchen receives too much heat.

The commercial containers that you purchased your coffee in are generally not appropriate for long-term storage. Appropriate storage canisters with an airtight seal are actually a worthwhile investment for coffee lovers.

Coffee is One Big Win

Coffee — it’s great with friends, family, and just about any occasion or setting. Not only does it taste great and pack major health benefits, but it’s also a great value. Did you know that, on average, you typically pay less than a dime for each cup of coffee you make at home? So don’t hesitate to drink another cup. Everyone wins!

We’re excited to announce our own brewed coffee. We use a patented roasting process that retains more antioxidants than any other coffee product. Consider giving it a try!


  1. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2053-63.
  2. Arch Intern Med. 1996 Mar 11;156(5):521-5.
  3. Gastroenterology. 2002 Dec;123(6):1823-30.
  4. Circulation. 2009 Mar 3;119(8):1116-23. Epub 2009 Feb 16.
  5. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Dec 14;169(22):2053-63
  6. JAMA 2005; 294:2330-2335.
  7. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(3):661-80.
  8. J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;17(3):699-700;
  9. Poster American Association for Cancer Research, 2009
  10. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006; 84:888-93.
  11. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010; 91:950-957.


Anonymous said...

Good for you unless you are sensitive to coffee or it's a cross reactive compound for you. When I drink coffee, my body thinks I've injested gluten (to which I am sensitive to) and I get an auto-immune reaction. Autoimmune is collectively the #3 cause of death in the industrialized world. Check out Cyrex Labs (I have no affiliate relationship with them), they are revolutionizing the field of autoimmune research and lab work.

Life Extension said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you...I appreciate the link. The product looks interesting...I'll check it out!

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