High Altitude Coffee

One of my favorite health blogs, NephroPal, recently posted this (it’s short so I posted the whole thing. I hope Dr. T doesn’t mind)

It has been noted that the population on the mountainous Italian island of Sardinia tends to have a longer life span. A theory has been attributed to the fact that they grow and distill their own wine at high altitudes. Interestingly, their wine contains a high level of an antioxidant called procyanidin. Like resveratrol, procyanidin is believed to explain the French Paradox which entails a longer life span while on a high fat diet. In my opinion, it is the type of fat consumed that is important.
Like Sardinia, Argentina has a prolific wine growing region called Mendoza which is also at a high altitude – 2449 ft above sea level. The area of Mendoza is located at the base of the eastern side Andes mountain range.
I was interested in the concept of high altitude wines and come upon an article by Berli, et al (1) who looked at just this topic. The team looked at wines from the Mendoza area and analyzed the Malbec variety of wine made from the Vitis vinifera grape. They looked at two components: 1) the altitude of 500, 1000, and 1,500 meters above sea level and 2) whether the Ultraviolet B (UV-B) rays from the sunlight were at full exposed or partial. The findings showed that the grapes grown at 1,500 meters with full UV-B exposure has the highest amount of polyphenols anthocyanins and resveratrol. Thus, higher altitudes translants into higher amounts of UV-B rays which inturn leads to a higher antioxidant content in the grapes.
I will continue to blog about the antioxidant properties of grapes and continue my series on obesity.
1) Berli F, D’Angelo J, Cavagnaro B, Bottini R, Wuilloud R, Silva MF: Phenolic composition in grape (Vitis vinifera L. cv. Malbec) ripened with different solar UV-B radiation levels by capillary zone electrophoresis. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 May 14;56(9):2892-8.

This got me thinking. In coffee we place a high value on high grown coffee. Could there be a similar connection? Thoughts?

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~ by Chris Owens on September 22, 2009.

One Response to “High Altitude Coffee”

  1. Hi Chris: There’s a synchronicity here because I came upon this post while drinking a French wine made from 80% Malbec grapes.

    I agree it is possible that unshaded high altitude coffee cherries contain higher antioxidant levels than cherries grown at lower altitudes. But it’s likely that these UV-related antioxidants are located in the skin of the fruit. In red wine, they would be extracted from the skins and end up in the beverage. But since the coffee we drink is not made from the skin and flesh of the fruit but from the roasted seeds, we may not get the benefit of UV-related antioxidants.

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