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From vitamin-packed veg to protein-rich pulses, it’s no secret that a healthy diet is the cornerstone of a healthy life. While there’s no substitution for your five-a-day, small dietary interventions could also play a big role for your health. In fact, new research suggests that something as common as coffee could reduce inflammation in your body.
Whether you have a cup first thing in the morning to wire you for the day or just to enjoy its characteristic taste, coffee offers more than a pleasant-tasting dose of caffeine.
From cutting your risk of dementia to boosting your longevity, the potent effects of this aromatic beverage are well-documented in research papers.
These studies always agree on one thing – to reap these benefits you need to stick to the black stuff.
However, new research, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, makes a strong case for keeping the milk in.
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The research paper shares that adding milk to your coffee cup may be good for you after all.
It explains that the protein in milk mixed with antioxidants in coffee make a powerful cocktail able to fight inflammation “twice” as effectively.
Whenever bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances enter your body, the immune system reacts by deploying white blood cells and chemical substances for protection.
This reaction describes inflammation, which can also occur whenever you overload tendons and muscles.
This is where coffee beans come to the rescue with their rich antioxidant content.
Packed with naturally-occurring plant compounds called polyphenols, coffee can help reduce oxidative stress in the body that gives rise to inflammation.
With this in mind, the research team from the University of Copenhagen investigated the anti-inflammatory effect of combining polyphenols with proteins.
Some of the cells received various doses of polyphenols that had reacted with an amino acid, which is the building block of proteins.
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Other cells only received polyphenols in the same doses, while the control group was given nothing.
The team found that the immune cells treated with the combination of polyphenols and amino acids were twice as “effective” at fighting inflammation.
Professor Marianne Nissen Lund, who headed the study, said: “Our result demonstrates that the reaction between polyphenols and proteins also happens in some of the coffee drinks with milk that we studied.
“In fact, the reaction happens so quickly that it has been difficult to avoid in any of the foods that we’ve studied so far.”
These results suggest that this could also be applicable to other foods that contain the polyphenol and protein combination.
Professor Nissen Lund added: “I can imagine that something similar happens in, for example, a meat dish with vegetables or a smoothie, if you make sure to add some protein like milk or yoghurt.”
Industries and research communities are now working on how to add the right quantities of polyphenols in foods to achieve the best quality because humans seem to be unable to absorb that much polyphenol.
Dr Nissen Lund said: “In the study, we show that as a polyphenol reacts with an amino acid, its inhibitory effect on inflammation in immune cells is enhanced.
“As such, it is clearly imaginable that this cocktail could also have a beneficial effect on inflammation in humans.
“We will now investigate further, initially in animals. After that, we hope to receive research funding which will allow us to study the effect in humans.”
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