If you are one of the nine million people who started a healthy eating plan in January, you have only a one in six chance of lasting the coursei. But it’s not all bad news. Research released today shows that most of us aren’t as clued up as we think about the health benefits of our favourite food and drink, and we may actually be doing our health a favour by ditching the detoxii.
According to a study of over 2,000 adults by NESCAFÉ®, the nation’s favourite coffee, an astonishing 76% of UK adults will quit self-styled “healthy” eating plans before the month is up, with half giving up as early as January 14thiii. But, according to health experts, by cutting out food and drink such as coffee, tea and chocolate, we might actually be depriving ourselves of important antioxidants.
As Dr Sarah Schenker, Registered Dietician, explains: “In the study NESCAFÉ carried out, chocolate, red wine, tea and coffee all featured on the list of most popular items to give up, yet when consumed in moderation, all are excellent sources of antioxidants (AOX) - naturally occurring substances that may help protect the body’s cells from day to day damage.”
Coffee is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in our dietiv. It doesn’t matter whether you drink it white, black, cappuccino or latte, the high antioxidant content of the coffee is still absorbed easily by the bodyv.
When asked about food and drink that are antioxidant rich, over half of all adults (59%) named blackcurrants, just under half (46%) named red wine and carrots (49%), whilst dark chocolate (40%) and tea (35%) both had respectable scores, but only 8% of respondents were aware about coffee’s antioxidant benefits.
Antioxidants are important because they can help to protect our cells from free radical damage caused by oxidative stress. This can be as a result of exposure to UV light, pollution or cigarette smoke. In effect, antioxidants neutralise these harmful free radicals that may otherwise damage to our body’s cells.
Dr Schenker continues: “Healthy eating plans should be about balance, making informed choices, and taking a sensible long-term approach. For instance, whilst the vast majority of Britons believe giving up coffee will benefit their long-term health, the reality is coffee can be good for you when drunk in moderation and is in fact one of the richest sources of antioxidants there is.”
Gary Williamson, Professor of Functional Food, School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, and a world expert on polyphenol antioxidants - said: “Coffee is in my top 20 lifespan essential foods list."
For more information please contact Sarah Tadier/Hannah Hayes on 0207 025 7500 or email [email protected]
Notes to editors
Dr. Sarah Schenker’s top tips on how to increase your antioxidant intake:
- Consume plant based food or drink as the antioxidants they contain are there to protect the plant. That doesn’t just mean fruit and vegetables, it includes coffee, tea, cocoa beans, pulses and whole grains
- Even if you are not a vegetarian, try to incorporate two or three vegetarian meals a week based on beans, lentils or pulses. For instance, why not have pea and lentil soup for lunch or vegetable bean casserole for dinner?
- Rather than soft drinks or diluted juices, drink plant-based drinks between meals, such as coffee or tea
- If you need a chocolate fix, choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids content, which has a much greater content of antioxidants compared with the usual milk or white chocolate
- If you are a keen exerciser, remember that coffee is a good choice of pre-exercise drink. The antioxidants may help to keep you healthy and the caffeine may boost your performance
Table showing antioxidant content of commonly consumed food and beveragesvi:
|Food||Antioxidants (mg per serving)|
|Pure pomegranate juice||306|
Coffee and Health – what is the evidence?
- There are many hundreds of intervention studies on polyphenols and polyphenol-rich foods and human health biomarkersvii
- Meta-analyses and scientific reviews have shown protection by dietary polyphenols against oxidative damageviii
- There have been nine intervention studies on coffee and health showing positive effects.
A few things you might not know about coffee:
- NESCAFÉ® is the 6th biggest brand in Britain (source: Grocer Britain’s Biggest Brands 2010) and the most popular coffee brand in the world
- Coffee ranks in the top three most consumed beverages in the world together with tea and water
- NESCAFÉ coffee is already enjoyed by over half of UK households with Britons drinking 15,000 cups of NESCAFÉ coffee a minute (source: NESCAFÉ website)
- 20.1 billion cups of coffee were drunk in home last year 89% of which was instant and 11% R&G (source: Total IRI Grocery Outlets, 52 w/e 17 July 2010, Total Ground Coffee and Total Instant Coffee, Volume Sales in Cups)
- The UK coffee market is worth £785m with roast and ground only accounting for £156m (source: Total IRI Grocery Outlets, 52 w/e 17 July 2010, Total Ground Coffee and Total Instant Coffee, Value Sales)
- NESCAFÉ GOLD BLEND was voted the most romantic ad of all time by consumers (source: Marketing Week 10th October 2008)
- NESCAFÉ® is a registered trade mark of Nestlé Ltd.
i YouGov fieldwork carried out from 14th-16th December 2010 among 2027 UK adults
ii YouGov fieldwork carried out from 14th-16th December 2010 among 2027 UK adults
iii YouGov fieldwork carried out from 14th-16th December 2010 among 2027 UK adults
iv Adapted from Pérez-Jiménez J et al, Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. EJCN (2010) 64, S112–S120
v The latest scientific research shows that when consumed in moderation (four to five mugs a day), coffee is safe and may even have health benefits
vi Adapted from Pérez-Jiménez J et al, Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database. EJCN (2010) 64, S112–S120
vii Lopez-Garcia E., Van Dam R.M., Li T.Y., The Relationship of Coffee Consumption with Mortality Annals of Internal Medicine, 2008, 148, 904-914; Epidemiology of coffee consumption on death from inflammatory diseases (Iowa Women’s Health Study on 41,836 postmenopausal women over 15 years) (Andersen et al 2006)
viii Review of phenolic compounds in coffee (Farah and Danangelo Braz. J. Plant Physiol. 18: 23-36 (2006); Review on the coffee compounds that could impact health diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, CVD, bone Higdon and Frei Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 46: 101-123 (2006); Review of health benefits of coffee, including antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, effects on central nervous system, bone, CV system and lipid profile. (George et al. Crit. Rev. Food Sci. Nutr. 48: 464-486 (2008)