Researchers at the University of Copenhagen investigated a phenomenon by which polyphenols—compounds commonly found in plant foods (including coffee) that are known to fight inflammation2—bind to the proteins in milk and supercharge their anti-inflammatory effects. To test this, the researchers caused artificial inflammation in immune cells and then treated those cells with either polyphenols alone or polyphenols that had reacted with milk proteins.
The study showed that the cells that received the polyphenols/milk protein combination were twice as effective at fighting inflammation. This means that starting your day with a combination of the polyphenols found in coffee and the proteins found in milk may help your body fend off inflammation.
In fact, the researchers specifically tested coffee drinks with milk to see whether the phenomenon occurred. Professor Marianne N. Lund, PhD, one of the lead authors of the study, explained in a statement, “Our result demonstrates that the reaction between polyphenols and proteins also happens in some of the coffee drinks with milk that we studied.”