The protective effects of plant polyphenol intake on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality are widely acknowledged. Caffeine-free chicory coffee is a rich source of plant phenolics, including caffeic acid, which inhibits in vitro platelet aggregation, and also phenylpyruvate tautomerase enzymatic activity of the proinflammatory cytokine, macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF). To assess whether chicory coffee consumption might confer cardiovascular benefits a clinical intervention study was performed with 27 healthy volunteers, who consumed 300 mL chicory coffee every day for 1 week. The dietary intervention produced variable effects on platelet aggregation, depending on the inducer used for the aggregation test. Whole blood and plasma viscosity were both significantly decreased, along with serum MIF levels, after 1 week of chicory coffee consumption. Moreover, significant improvements were seen in red blood cell deformability. No changes in hematocrit, fibrinogen level or red blood cell counts were detected. The full spectrum of these effects is unlikely to be attributable to a single compound present in chicory coffee, nevertheless, the phenolics, including caffeic acid, are expected to play a substantial role. In conclusion, our study offers an encouraging starting-point to delineate the antithrombotic and antiinflammatory effects of phenolic compounds found in chicory coffee.
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.