Coffee beats green tea by containing four times the amount of health-boosting antioxidants, which can assist in preventing or postponing the onset of degenerative diseases, according to a new study, Reuters reports this week.
The study, carried out in Switzerland by the Lausanne-based Nestle Research Centre, examined the effects of green tea, cocoa, herbal teas and coffee on antioxidant activity.
``We have known for some time from our monitoring of on-going research findings that there are many potential health benefits of consuming coffee,'' an official of the International Coffee Organization said in a statement Wednesday.
``This latest and exciting research finding may help us better understand and prevent common diseases which are triggered by oxidative reactions.''
Antioxidants reduce the effects on the human body of harmful substances known as free radicals which may be a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts and decline of the immune and nervous system. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are other foods high in antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.
Robusta green coffee beans had a two-fold higher antioxidant activity than arabica, although this difference declined after roasting, according to results of the Nestle-financed centre's study.
``In conclusion, these commonly consumed beverages have a significant antioxidant activity, the highest being soluble coffee on a cup-serving basis,'' according to the study, published recently in the international publication Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Robusta beans are used to make instant coffee and in blends with arabica coffees. Green beans are never consumed in their native state.
The study said antioxidant activity was greatly influenced by the method of preparation of a cup of coffee, which would lead to a considerable difference in the amount ingested by different countries. One cup of coffee prepared by U.S. consumers contained 0.7 percent soluble coffee, compared to 1.7 percent for Swiss drinkers and 2.0 percent in France.
The antioxidant activities were not affected by the addition of milk to coffee, cocoa and tea. The study was carried out ``in vitro,'' or in test-tubes and further studies ``in vivo'' - on cells, cultures, animals, healthy humans and eventually humans with diseases -- will need to be carried out.