Something magical happens when milk touches espresso. There’s an alchemy to that tan elixir whereby the sum is greater than its parts. It’s velvety, rich, sweet, suitable both for the first coffee of the day and the finish to a perfect dinner. And it turns out, there may be some healthful synchronicity to the pair as well, as a new study finds that adding milk to coffee may double its anti-inflammatory effects.
As reported by The Independent, a study was published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and was performed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. For the study, researchers focused their experiments on two substances: proteins in milk and polyphenols from coffee. Abundant in coffee, polyphenols are antioxidants that helps ease inflammation by “helping reduce oxidative stress in the body that gives rise to inflammation.”
To examine the effects of the two compounds, researchers “applied artificial inflammation to immune cells.” Those cells then received various amounts of polyphenols that had reacted with amino acids, “the building block of protein.” A second control group of cells was dosed with only polyphenols. Researchers found that the cells dosed with the combination of polyphenols and amino acids were twice as effective at alleviating inflammation as the polyphenol-only cells.
Researchers postulate that these combination effects are not just limited to milk and coffee, but could exist in any food combining polyphenols and proteins. For the coffee drinker, this means that the positive effect isn’t just for those who partake in cow’s milk. Soy milk, for instance, has similar protein content to that of cow’s milk, so your favorite coffee beverage needn’t have animal products to get the anti-inflammatory double whammy.
The next steps for the researchers is do study how the combination of polyphenols and protein affects animals. After that, it can go to human trial.
So while there are some question marks surrounding the healthfulness of adding milk to coffee (mostly from the sugar in the milk), this study shows there may be positives as well. Beyond, you know, milk and coffee being extra super duper delicious together. And really, isn’t that enough?