Science has shown that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. In several plant foods, one source of those benefits is caffeic acid. This polyphenol is most famously found in coffee and is the primary reason that moderate coffee drinking is a healthy habit.
Although their names are similar, caffeic acid has no relationship to caffeine and can be found in many foods beyond a cup coffee. We’ll look at why and how caffeic acid improves your health, including your bone health, and then learn which foods contain the most of it.
What is Caffeic Acid?
Caffeic acid is a polyphenol, a class of micronutrients found in plant foods. More specifically, caffeic acid is part of a group of polyphenols called hydroxycinnamic acids. These compounds are valued for antioxidant properties that confer numerous health benefits.
Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress in the body, which can reduce inflammation, protect cells from damage, improve bone health, and reduce the risk of many ailments including cancer and dementia.1,2 Caffeic acid is found in many plant foods and is likely already a part of your diet.
Caffeic acid is a polyphenol and an antioxidant found in coffee and other plant foods.
The Bone Health Benefits Of Caffeic Acid
Antioxidants protect your bones from oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress results when free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS), outnumber the antioxidants that would disarm them by giving them a spare electron to stabilize their molecular structure.
Oxidative stress occurs in tissues, including bone tissue, when ROS strip a molecule of an electron. ROS cause significant oxidative damage to your bone cells. They increase bone resorption and greatly hamper osteoblast activity.3
As an antioxidant, caffeic acid stabilizes ROS and prevents them from causing bone loss.
Furthermore, studies found caffeic acid to be anti inflammatory.4 Inflammation, and especially chronic inflammation, increases fracture risk and reduces bone health.5
Caffeic acid is an all natural way to reduce inflammation while increasing antioxidants, a powerful two-pronged approach to reversing osteoporosis.
Caffeic acid both reduces bone-harming inflammation and protects your bones from the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Caffeic Acid And Your Overall Health
Both of the bone-protective qualities of caffeic acid have positive implications for the rest of your body systems. ROS damage cells all across the body, so increasing antioxidant levels protects all of your body tissues. Here are some other benefits of caffeic acid:
Research in diabetic mice has shown that caffeic acid lowers blood glucose levels, fights inflammation, and raises blood insulin levels.6
Caffeic acid reduces the risk of a blood clots and lowers triglycerides, both of which are associated with heart disease.6
Studies on the impact of caffeic acid found it has anticancer properties on specific kinds of cancer, including oral cancer1, colon cancer7, and breast cancer.8
A study on caffeic acid derived from garlic found it reduces UVB-induced wrinkle formation when topically applied to hairless mice.9
Caffeic acid benefits your overall health by preventing diabetes and heart disease and fighting cancer and aging.
How To Consume Caffeic Acid Without Drinking Coffee
The benefits detailed above are part of why coffee is is a healthy beverage. However, it is acidifying and should be enjoyed in moderation. The caffeine in regular coffee is also a strain on your system. While decaffeinated coffee removes that problem, it is still acidifying. So moderation is key for coffee consumption.
Fortunately, many other natural food sources of caffeic acid will confer to you its numerous health benefits.
- Star Anise
- Sunflower Seeds*
- Olive Oil
* Denotes a Foundation Food
There are numerous natural plant food sources of caffeic acid, ranging from spices such as turmeric to vegetables and fruits and seeds, including mushrooms, cabbage, strawberries, pears, and sunflower seeds.
Take The Best, Leave The Rest
The pH-balanced diet recommended by the Save Institute is naturally rich in the fruits and vegetables that contain caffeic acid. A cup of coffee or decaf can give your body an extra boost of this powerful polyphenol.
With every bite, savor the knowledge that when you eat foods that contain caffeic acid, you are protecting your bones and your whole body.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
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1 Yean-Jang Lee, et al. “Preferential cytotoxicity of caffeic acid phenethyl ester analogues on oral cancer cells.” Cancer Letters. Volume 153, Issues 1–2, 29 May 2000, Pages 51-56. Web. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030438350000389X
2 Maher, P. “Modulation of multiple pathways involved in the maintenance of neuronal function during aging by fisetin.” Genes Nutr. 2009 Sep 10.
3 Rao, L.G.; Kang, N., and Rao, A.V. “Polyphenol Antioxidants and Bone Health: A Review.” Phytochemicals – A Global Perspective of Their Role in Nutrition and Health. Dr. Venketeshwer Rao (Ed.): ISBN: 978-953-51-0296-0. InTech. PDF. https://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/32957.pdf
4 K Natarajan, et al. “Caffeic acid phenethyl ester is a potent and specific inhibitor of activation of nuclear transcription factor NF-kappa B.” PNAS August 20, 1996 93 (17) 9090-9095. Web: https://www.pnas.org/content/93/17/9090.short
5 Shinya Ishii, et al. “C-Reactive Protein, Bone Strength, and Nine-Year Fracture Risk: Data From the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (S” J Bone Miner Res. 2013 Jul; 28(7): 10.1002/jbmr.1915. WAN). Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880424/
6 Pei-chun Chao, et al. “Anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulatory activities of caffeic acid and ellagic acid in cardiac tissue of diabetic mice” Nutrition & Metabolism 2009 6:33. Web. https://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-6-33
7 En-Pei Isabel Chiang, et al. “Caffeic Acid Derivatives Inhibit the Growth of Colon Cancer: Involvement of the PI3-K/Akt and AMPK Signaling Pathways.” PLoS One. 2014; 9(6): e99631. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4069067/
8 Masahiko Watabe, et al. “Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester Induces Apoptosis by Inhibition of NFκB and Activation of Fas in Human Breast Cancer MCF-7 Cells.” Journal of Biological Chemistry. November 18, 2003. 279, 6017-6026. Web. https://www.jbc.org/content/279/7/6017.short
9 So Ra Kim, et al. Anti-Wrinkle and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Active Garlic Components and the Inhibition of MMPs via NF-κB Signaling.” PLoS One. 2013; 8(9): e73877. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3774756/