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BIoactive compounds in coffee

On average, how many cups of coffee do you drink in a day? A week? Perhaps none, perhaps so many that you don’t even “feel the caffeine” until your third cup. Once you read this article, you’ll get to know exactly how your coffee is affecting your overall health.

This article will aim to introduce the bioactive compounds in coffee; specifically caffeine, chlorogenic acids, melanoidins, trigonelline, diterpenes, and their effects on the human body to evaluate the overall health contributions coffee may have.


It is safe to assume that most people are aware that coffee contains caffeine. Caffeine is an antagonist of adenosine receptors, which in turn increases your dopamine levels(1). This stimulatory effect is how coffee is considered to be a stimulant to the central nervous system. Caffeine also results in improved attention, alertness, and physical performance(2).

While caffeine has many beneficial effects, excessive amounts of caffeine may result in sleep deprivation, cardiovascular stimulation, behavioral changes, spontaneous abortion, or impaired fetal growth(3). However, a moderate intake of caffeine will not result in these conditions.

Chlorogenic Acid & Melanoidins

Chlorogenic acids and melanoidins are major antioxidant compounds in coffee which can increase of blood antioxidant levels(4). Chlorogenic acids and Melanoidins are also known to have chemo-preventive and anticarcinogenic properties(1). These properties are believed to play a protective role against colorectal cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the USA(5). In other words, chlorogenic acids and melanoidins in coffee can be seen as an antioxidant, and believed to play a protective role from certain cancers.

These compounds are associated with antimicrobial activities which is an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth. For example, chlorogenic acids’ antimicrobial activities are susceptible to viruses such as hepatitis B(6).


Trigonelline has been proven to have many beneficial effects on your physical health as well. These include anti-diabetic effects as well as neuroprotective, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, anti-invasive, and antibacterial responses(5). In other words, trigonelline aids in lowering blood sugar levelsfighting against pancreatic cancer cells, and holds beneficial effects towards peripheral neural damage. Therefore, coffee can be considered a healthy beverage option for many because of its health benefits.


Diterpenes have a chemo-preventive potential by enhancing defense systems against oxidative stress(5). However, high consumption of these compounds may raise the total cholesterol levels, raising some health concerns(4). This is one of the concerning compounds that may have a negative effect on your health if you consume too much of. Please be careful of your coffee intake, especially if you have high cholesterol levels.

However, these compounds can be removed greatly by filtering the coffee before consumption(3).

So, Is coffee good for us?

Today, coffee has become so popular thanks to Starbucks and other fancy cafes. There are so many different options to choose from, and to explore. As a coffee junkie myself, I highly recommend trying new types of coffee to find your own favorite taste.

From the overall scientific research of the bioactive compounds included in caffeine, I would conclude that coffee can improve your physical health and overall wellness. However, the coffee intake should always be moderate, and coffee junkies should monitor the amount of coffee they consume.


(1) Mafalda C. Sarraguca, Ricardo N.M.J. Pascoa, Miguel Lopo, Jorge M.G. Sarraguca and Joao A. Lopes. “Bioactive Compounds in Coffee as Health Promoters”. 2016.

(2) EFSA Publication. “EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies”.The EFSA Journal. 2011.


(3) Jae-HoonBae, Jae-HyungPark, Seung-Soon Im, Dae-Kyu Song. “Coffee and Health”. Keimyung University School of Medicine. ScienceDirect. 2014.


(4) ISIC the institute for scientific information on coffee 2020. “Coffee Composition & Nutritional Information”. Coffee&Health. 2020.

(5) National Center for Biotechnology Information. “The Impact of Coffee and Its Selected Bioactive Compounds on the Development and Progression of Colorectal Cancer In Vivo and In Vitro”. 2018.


(6) G.-F. Wang, L.-P. Shi, Y.-D. Ren et al. “Anti-hepatitis B virus activity of chlorogenic acid, quinic acid and caffeic acid in vivo and in vitro,” Antiviral Research. 2009. 

Amanna Coy

ICU Japan '22

I am currently a MCC & Business double major in ICU Japan. I am fluent in both Japanese and English, and I have a strong love for language, literature, films, self-care and beauty. I am particularly interested in cosmetics and skincare, and hope to be a part of the industry in the future. I joined HCICU to be able to enjoy the things I love and have a platform to share my thoughts and experiences with.
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