Epidemiologic studies from several countries have found that mortality rates associated with the metabolic syndrome are inversely associated with coffee consumption. Metabolic syndrome can lead to arteriosclerosis by endothelial dysfunction, and increases the risk for myocardial and cerebral infarction. Accordingly, it is important to understand the possible protective effects of coffee against components of the metabolic syndrome, including vascular endothelial function impairment, obesity and diabetes. Coffee contains many components, including caffeine, chlorogenic acid, diterpenes and trigonelline. Studies have found that coffee polyphenols, such as chlorogenic acids, have many health-promoting properties, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and antihypertensive properties. Chlorogenic acids may exert protective effects against metabolic syndrome risk through their antioxidant properties, in particular toward vascular endothelial cells, in which nitric oxide production may be enhanced, by promoting endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression. These effects indicate that coffee components may support the maintenance of normal endothelial function and play an important role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome. However, results related to coffee consumption and the metabolic syndrome are heterogeneous among studies, and the mechanisms of its functions and corresponding molecular targets remain largely elusive. This review describes the results of studies exploring the putative effects of coffee components, especially in protecting vascular endothelial function and preventing metabolic syndrome.
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