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Why adding a bit of milk to your morning coffee might be good for you

A recent study from the University of Copenhagen says adding milk to coffee may be anti-inflammatory. (Pexels) A recent study from the University of Copenhagen says adding milk to coffee may be anti-inflammatory. (Pexels)
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Adding some milk to your morning coffee may boost the body's anti-inflammatory response, new research out of Denmark shows.

In a pair of studies from the University of Copenhagen, published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and the journal Food Chemistry, researchers looked at how antioxidants known as polyphenols interact with amino acids, which make up proteins.

Part of their work involved combining a drink high in polyphenols – coffee – with another rich in proteins – milk.

"In the study, we show that as a polyphenol reacts with an amino acid, its inhibitory effect on inflammation in immune cells is enhanced," Prof. Marianne Nissen Lund, who led the study, said in a news release.

"As such, it is clearly imaginable that this cocktail could also have a beneficial effect on inflammation in humans."

A person's inflammatory response kicks in as the body's immune system releases white blood cells to fight foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses, the researchers say. This can also occur when tendons and muscles are overworked, as well as in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Polyphenols, meanwhile, are found naturally in humans, plants, fruits and vegetables and are used to help prevent food from becoming rancid.

The researchers tested this anti-inflammatory effect on immune cells. They say cells that received both polyphenols and amino acids were twice as effective at fighting inflammation compared to cells that only received polyphenols.

The scientists also looked at how the molecules bind to each other in a drink such as coffee with milk and found that the same reaction occurs.

"In fact, the reaction happens so quickly that it has been difficult to avoid in any of the foods that we've studied so far," Lund said.

The researchers say this anti-inflammatory effect may occur when combining other types of food, such as a meat dish with vegetables or a smoothie with milk or yogurt.

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