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Coffee is often praised for its antioxidative capabilities. How does it compare to other popular antioxidant sources like chocolate, wine, berries, or various spices? How many antioxidants do we need per day? Is coffee enough?

How much antioxidation do we need?

The ability of foods to reduce the oxidative stress caused by free radicals is measured by ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Daily intake between 3,000 and 5,000 ORAC units has been shown to have a significant impact on plasma and tissue antioxidant capacity; that’s why everyone should try and get this amount every day.

How much is in coffee?

The antioxidant value of Brewed Arabica Coffee, Medium Roast described in ORAC units is 2,780 per every 100g, or in case of liquid 100 ml (3,38 ounces). Is that a lot? Let’s compare with other popular sources of antioxidants and with some rather surprising ones.

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As you can see, coffee is pretty high up in terms of ORAC units per 100g. The highest ORAC score ever measured (314 446 units) belongs to ground cloves. It’s important to keep in mind the amount you are realistically going to consume. You can easily drink 200ml of coffee every day, while ingesting even a single gram of ground cloves daily could prove problematic. And that’s probably why observational studies show that coffee is the best antioxidant in the western world today. It is very effective, practical, and highly available; a potent combo.

We need more than one source of antioxidants

Even though coffee is the best source of antioxidants in a typical western diet, it’s not enough on its own. It contains powerful antioxidants such as hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, but there are plenty others, and each works differently. Every plant has a unique combination of antioxidants, and we need as much variety as we can get. That’s where a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables comes in.

So, if you want to give your body the best chance in preventing cell damage caused by oxidation and staying healthy in the long run, don’t shy away from good wine and quality chocolate, be generous with your use of spices and herbs, and make sure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. And of course, enjoy a delicious serving of coffee beans just the way you like it every day.