"Vente skinny pumpkin spice latte with extra whip, please... and four cake pops.. for my, uh, cat."
Mmm, coffee. The magic bean that gave life to all nighters in the library. What is coffee though and why does it keep us coming back for more? As most of us know, coffee contains a well known stimulant caffeine that is able to give us an extra boost when we feel down.
Coffee, in particular, has gotten somewhat of a bad rep for being packed full of caffeine and quite addicting when adding creams, syrups, and other sugary goodness to the mix.
Myths like it stunts your growth, ages you faster, and will shorten your life were around when I was young, but little to no explanation was given to exactly why and how these things might happen. I mean, my grandma drinks coffee daily and she's 96... or 97? Hm..
So let's talk coffee, caffeine, and if there are any benefits in that dark liquid gold.. but pour me a cup first- hey it's 8:00am.
Let's Start With Caffeine.
In each 8oz cup of coffee, about 70-140 mg of caffeine is present depending on the roast and brew strength.
Caffeine is an organic molecule comprised of amine and amide functional groups.
This molecule, when ingested, particularly effects the brain and the mechanisms involved in making us feel tired; the main molecule affected being adenosine.
is the nucleoside crucial to help us fall asleep/ feel fatigued and is mainly effected by caffeine. Upon waking in the morning, our body begins using energy in the form of ATP. Adenosine, being a breakdown product of the ATP molecule (Adenosine Triphosphate), is broken down and slowly builds up in our brain as we are active throughout the day. The more adenosine molecules there are in the brain, the sooner we'll want to fall asleep which is why we feel bogged down after a rough day.
So What Does Caffeine Have To Do With It?
Looking at adenosine and caffeine side by side, we can see a very similar molecule which is important for why caffeine keeps us feeling good when we should be tired.
Look at the nitrogens and the double ring structure for similarities. Adenosine contains a pentose sugar contrastingly.
Since we know that adenosine builds up during our waking hours, we don't begin feeling tired until adenosine actually binds to its respective receptor in the brain (A2a receptor). However, when we intake caffeine and because the molecules are so similar in structure, caffeine will bind to the adenosine receptors so the body doesn't get the fatigue or tired signal. As a result, that 4am flight you have to catch may manageable.
I'm on my third cup now in case you were wondering.
So, the big question is, "Does this make coffee consumption bad?" In MY humble opinion,
In moderation, not at all. Coffee, surprisingly, has a minor nutrient profile and contains the following per 8oz cup:
0 grams fat
0 grams sugar
0.3 grams protein
0.2 milligrams vitamin-b12
0.6 milligrams pantothenic acid
116 milligrams potassium
0.1 milligrams manganese
7.1 milligrams magnesium
0.5 milligrams niacin
More importantly, the antioxidant profile of coffee itself is fantastic.
Coffee is jammed packed with phenols, quinines, melanoidins, and many more. In fact, its ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value comes in at a whopping 2,780 μ mol TE/100g according to superfoodly.com.
Okay, compared to what Eric?
Green Kale which measured in at 1,770 μ mol TE/100g. KALE!
So for all my juicers out there who gave up coffee, holler at your boy.
And for those wondering what the ORAC value is and if it's significant (I didn't know what it was either) it quantify's the total antioxidant capacity of a food.
Thumbs up for coffee and nobody will convince me otherwise. Now, where's my creamer..