What is the chemistry of coffee? Caffeine is the most famous chemical compound in coffee, but roasted coffee beans contain more than 1,000 other compounds. Some of these chemicals are noxious but still are not unhealthy because they are present in such low amounts.
You never hear anybody wake up and say, “I need a big dose of putrescine and dimethyl disulfide in my morning cup.” As Business Insider reports, these chemicals are present in decaying flesh (putrescine) and human feces (dimethyl disulfide) and give them their distinct odor. If this grosses you out, don’t worry, these compounds are present in such tiny amounts that they won’t ruin your morning cuppa with noxious odors and flavors.
Of course caffeine is the most famous chemical in coffee and has been shown as beneficial in many ways. Research on coffee has shown that it:
Caffeine also can enhance memory and concentration, keep you alert, alleviate fatigue and sleep deprivation, and, according to CaffeineInformer, it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. It also may prevent erectile dysfunction and reduce the risk of suicide.
A Viter Life blog pointed out that caffeine can boost athletic stamina and speed so much that the International Olympic Committee once limited how much of it Olympic athletes could take. Caffeine was categorized as a performance-enhancing substance.
What are some of these other mysterious chemicals in coffee? Two compounds that may raise cholesterol, specifically bad LDL cholesterol, are present as oily droplets or in grounds, says a Harvard Health Letter article. They are cafestol and kawheol, oily chemicals of a type called diterpenes. Paper filters catch most of these chemicals, but certain types of coffee preparation that don’t use filters leave them in the beverage.
Harvard reports: “There is a twist to this aspect of the coffee story, because cafestol and kahweol may also have some health benefits that are lost when they’re filtered out. The research is in the preliminary stages, but cafestol and kahweol could have some anticancer effects and be good for the liver.”
There are so many chemical compounds in coffee that various websites report on different ones.
Other antioxidant chemicals, including chlorogenic acid, may help prevent heart disease and diabetes, and inhibit the body’s absorption of glucose in the digestive tract and even out the level of insulin, Harvard reports.
“Chlorogenic acid might be another coffee ingredient with a split personality. Along with caffeine, it seems to push up levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that has been associated with artery-clogging atherosclerosis,” Harvard says the article.
Business Insider introduces its article by writing:
This is what you just put in your mug: Cocaine-like brain chemicals and the juice of death.
The article is from a chapter in the book THIS IS WHAT YOU JUST PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? by Patrick Di Justo.
Sounds kind of grim, doesn’t it? But the chapter does point to some positive effects of coffee’s many chemicals.
The Harvard Medical Letter says coffee is good for us, but researchers on coffee’s benefits haven’t reached the conclusion that coffee should be a recommended health drink. The letter states that so many favorable studies and such healthy ingredients mean good news for those who drink coffee. Harvard advises people to enjoy their cups of coffee in moderation.
Of course if you’re turned off by the (undetectable) presence of the odor of feces and decay, you can try Viter Energy Mints, which contain none of those noxious chemicals and some very helpful ones, including caffeine, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide and sucralose.
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Is there a big difference between synthetic and natural caffeine? Apparently, synthetic caffeine is much more powerful than the caffeine found naturally in plants. The question is, is synthetic caffeine harmful?
Some fairly ominous-sounding chemicals are used to process synthetic caffeine. Websites are unclear as to whether the ethyl acetate and methylene chloride (and carbon dioxide) used to process urea to manufacture synthetic caffeine remain in the product. Ethyl acetate is used as a flavoring in some foods, though, so perhaps it is not harmful and may remain in synthetic caffeine.
Why does soda have caffeine in it? Caffeine does add to the complex flavors of the various types of caffeinated soda. In fact, the taste of caffeine is bitter and has to be balanced with sugars or sweeteners and other flavors. Caffeine also adds a boost in energy to the drinkers of soda.
But what reason do the manufacturers give for adding caffeine to soda pop?
Some research has suggested that caffeine may stimulate thermogenesis - a scientific name for the way your body generates heat and energy from the calories in your food; but nutrition experts say that this effect probably isn't enough to produce significant weight-loss. Caffeine may also reduce your desire to eat for a brief time, but again, there's no good evidence over the long-term that this effect leads to weight-loss. To date, no conclusive clinical studies have been done to determine the long-term effect of caffeine on weight loss, and the smaller studies that have been done show a lot of variability in the outcomes.