A cup of coffee with milk can also have an anti-inflammatory effect in humans.
This is the conclusion of a study by a team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen and the Technische Universität Dresden.
The results of the study, which has not yet been tested on humans, are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Twice as good at fighting inflammation
In the research, which builds on cell experiments, the scientists look at what so-called polyphenols do when they are combined with amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
Polyphenols are a group of antioxidants that can be found in coffee beans, among other things – and where coffee is full of polyphenols, milk contains a lot of protein.
The scientists investigated the anti-inflammatory effect by inducing artificial inflammation in the immune cells.
Some cells received a few doses of polyphenols that had already reacted with an amino acid, while other cells received only polyphenols. There was also a group of cells to which nothing was added.
Based on this, the researchers found that the immune cells that received the combination of polyphenols and amino acids were twice as good at fighting inflammation as the cells that received polyphenols alone.
Therefore, according to the researchers, ‘it is obvious that the combination could also work well against inflammation in humans.’
Also possible effect of other foods
The researchers have previously shown that polyphenols bind to proteins in meat, milk and beer, among other things.
In a second study, they tested whether the molecules also bind to each other in coffee with milk. And the results are promising.
“Our data shows that the reaction between polyphenols and proteins also takes place in some of the coffee drinks with milk that we studied,” says Marianne Nissen Lund of the University of Copenhagen, who led the study.
She therefore believes that the beneficial anti-inflammatory effect can also occur if we mix other types of foods that consist of proteins and fruits and vegetables that are rich in polyphenols.
‘I suspect that a similar reaction between polyphenols and amino acids occurs in a meat dish with vegetables or a smoothie, provided you at least make sure that there is some protein, such as milk or yogurt,’ says Marianne Nissen Lund.
The researchers are now going to test the effect on animals and then want to see whether the beneficial effect also occurs in human experiments.