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A java jolt with benefits

September 05, 2005|Emily Singer | Special to The Times

THAT daily dose of java provides more than a quick pick-me-up in the U.S. diet. New research shows that coffee is the No. 1 source of bioflavonoids, a type of antioxidant -- simply because Americans drink so much of it.

After analyzing the amount of bioflavonoids in 100 foods and beverages, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices and common drinks, researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania combined these numbers with data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the average per capita consumption of each food.

Americans drink an average of 8 ounces of coffee per day, which they reported contains an estimated 1,300 milligrams of bioflavonoids. Other top scorers -- based on daily consumption -- include black tea (294 milligrams), bananas (76 milligrams), dry beans (72 milligrams), corn (48 milligrams), red wine (44 milligrams) and beer (42 milligrams). Bioflavonoids, which are found in plants, can help protect cells from oxidative damage and may play a protective role against cancer and age-related diseases.

"We should also try to get antioxidants from fruits and vegetables because these foods have more health benefits," says Joe Vinson, a chemist who led the research.

The research was presented Aug. 28 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.

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