Research on the potential protective effects of coffee and its bioactives (caffeine, chlorogenic acids and diterpenes) against oxidative stress and related chronic disease risk has been increasing in the last years. The present review summarizes the main findings on the effect of coffee consumption on protection against lipid, protein and DNA damage, as well as on the modulation of antioxidant capacity and antioxidant enzymes in human studies. Twenty-six dietary intervention studies (involving acute and chronic coffee intake) have been considered. Overall, the results suggest that coffee consumption can increase glutathione levels and improve protection against DNA damage, especially following regular/repeated intake. On the contrary, the effects of coffee on plasma antioxidant capacity and antioxidant enzymes, as well as on protein and lipid damage, are unclear following both acute and chronic exposure. The high heterogeneity in terms of type of coffee, doses and duration of the studies, the lack of information on coffee and/or brew bioactive composition, as well as the choice of biomarkers and the methods used for their evaluation, may partially explain the variability observed among findings. More robust and well-controlled intervention studies are necessary for a thorough understanding of the effect of coffee on oxidative stress markers in humans.
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