Friday, September 25, 2009


Coffee is better known for its stimulatory effect and many believe that too much coffee consumption can be harmful to health. Presence of caffeine, which is supposed to be a stimulant, makes many consumers wary about any adverse effect on health though recent reports have been able to absolve it of any harmful effect on humans. It is a paradox that cola beverages containing high concentration of caffeine are consumed in large quantities with out giving any thought about caffeine content in them. Similarly cocoa and tea, also containing caffeine are not shunned to the same extent as coffee.

Now comes the startling findings by coffee researchers that its consumption can be beneficial. "Consuming three cups of instant coffee a day for three weeks resulted in increased populations of Bifidobacterium spp.Our results show that the consumption of the coffee preparation resulting from water co-extraction of green and roasted coffee beans produce an increase in the metabolic activity and/or numbers of the Bifidobacterium spp. population, a bacterial group of reputed beneficial effects, without major impact on the dominant microbiota.".

As coffee is a cocktail of many chemicals it is very difficult to pin point as to the factor responsible for this beneficial effect. While the above empirical observations, arising out of the studies by one of the major instant coffee producers in the world, are significant, there are many issues that need clarification. If instant coffee is so effective, what about the house hold filter coffee, so popular in India? It must be realized that during the process of commercial extraction of coffee under pressure a significant part of the carbohydrate present in coffee gets hydrolyzed and do these artifacts contribute to increased bifidobacterial population? What about the instant coffee version obtained from chicory-coffee blend, which are popular in some countries? Probably an impartial study can only bring out the facts and the results from the above studies must be corroborated independently.


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