Today’s molecule – Caffeine

More good news about coffee

American Chemical Society Press release 4th May 2011

“New evidence that caffeine is a healthful antioxidant in coffee”.

Is Caffeine a Good Scavenger of Oxygenated Free Radicals? Jorge Rafael Len-Carmona, & Annia Galano. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2011, 115 (15), 4538-4546.  [link]

Len-Carmona, & Galano note that caffeine [1,3,7-trimethylxanthine] is found also in “seeds, citrus fruits, olive oil, tea, and cocoa beverages“.

Their work suggested that caffeine is a good scavenger of some reactive oxygen species, but not all. Excellent OH scavenging activity was reported, only “modest” scavenging of OCH3 and no scavenging of HOO

They cite work of others that suggest caffeine is effective against conditions related to oxidative stress in the body including Alzheimer’s disease, eye lens damage from photochemically induced reactive oxygen species, and that caffeine [actually its metabolites in humans]  may have antioxidant potential at least that of ascorbic acid .

Typically the press release was a little less guarded than the paper:  “Scientists are reporting an in-depth analysis of how the caffeine in coffee, tea, and other foods seems to protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease on the most fundamental levels.” “Annia Galano and Jorge Rafael León-Carmona describe evidence suggesting that coffee is one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants in the average person’s diet. Some of the newest research points to caffeine (also present in tea, cocoa, and other foods) as the source of powerful antioxidant effects that may help protect people from Alzheimer’s and other diseases“.

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