While "free radicals" may sound like a political subculture, they're actually atoms, molecules, or ions shown to damage cells and potentially contribute to cancer. Fortunately, a new study suggests that coffee plays a role in stabilizing free radicals, adding to the morning beverage's superlative antioxidant capabilities and giving you an excuse to order your favorite Starbucks latte.
The study, conducted by researchers from Monash University in Australia and Italian coffee roasting company Illycaffè and published in PLOS, monitored the behavior of free radicals and antioxidants throughout the brewing process using electron paramagnetic resonance. The researchers found that, under certain conditions, coffee can stabilize free radicals, which normally seek electrons from cells in our bodies to become stabilized.
"The findings provide a better understanding of the potential health benefits of coffee, as well as a deeper knowledge of the roasting process – ultimately leading to the highest quality cup of coffee,” the study's first author Dr. Gordon Troup said in a Monash University press release.
This study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that your coffee-drinking habits may not be the worst thing for you. In fact, coffee has also been proven to provide these health benefits:
1. Coffee can improve your workout
A cup of coffee before you head to the gym, exercise class, or outdoor adventure can improve your circulation, reduce pain, and fuel muscle — not to mention make you feel better about the fact that you're not still in bed.
2. The smell of coffee reduces stress.
An ethically questionable study at Seoul National University found that sleep-deprived rats' stress levels went down when they were exposed to the smell of coffee — and I think a number of humans can relate to the sense of relief that ensues when they turn on the coffee machine or walk into a Starbucks after getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
3. Coffee can reduce your risk of endometrial cancer.
A recent study at the Imperial College of London found that women who drank three cups of coffee per day were 19 percent less likely to get endometrial cancer, which begins in the uterus, than women who drank less than one cup. Another reason to order a refill!
4. Coffee reduces your risk of liver cirrhosis.
One study found that people who drank at least a cup of coffee per day were 20 percent less likely to develop liver cirrhosis, which is typically caused by excessive alcohol consumption. (Though if you're planning to go get smashed and guzzle coffee the next day to counteract any potential liver damage, well, I'm not sure if it works that way.)