An ardent proponent of the benefits of black coffee? You might have to change allegiance, as a new study has found coffee with milk has synergistic properties that increase its anti-inflammatory effect.

The study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that the antioxidants from coffee combined with proteins from milk lead to a doubling of the anti-inflammatory properties of immune cells.

First, a lesson in biology 101. Our immune systems deploy a number of white blood cells and chemical substances to protect us against pathogens and other foreign substances that enter our bodies, causing inflammation. The damage caused by inflammation can be alleviated by antioxidants such as polyphenols. In this study, researchers from the University Of Copenhagen analyzed the reaction of other molecules, such as amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

“In the study, we show that as a polyphenol reacts with an amino acid, its inhibitory effect on inflammation in immune cells is enhanced,” senior author Marianne Lund, an expert in Food Science at Copenhagen, said, reported. “As such, it is clearly imaginable that this cocktail could also have a beneficial effect on inflammation in humans. We will now investigate further, initially in animals. After that, we hope to receive research funding which will allow us to study the effect in humans.”

For the study, immune cells were artificially inflamed and exposed to this combination. The duo was twice as effective at fighting inflammation compared to polyphenols alone, the study found.

It has been previously shown that polyphenols bind to proteins in meat products, milk, and beer, and have great health benefits. The present study showed this process also occurs in coffee with milk.

“Our result demonstrates that the reaction between polyphenols and proteins also happens in some of the coffee drinks with milk that we studied. In fact, the reaction happens so quickly that it has been difficult to avoid in any of the foods that we’ve studied so far,” Lund said, according to the outlet.

“Because humans do not absorb that much polyphenol, many researchers are studying how to encapsulate polyphenols in protein structures which improve their absorption in the body. This strategy has the added advantage of enhancing the anti-inflammatory effects of polyphenols,” Lund continued.

Another study found drinking two or more cups of coffee a day could put people with severely high blood pressure more at risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack.

“Heavy coffee consumption was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) mortality among people with severe hypertension, but not people without hypertension and with grade 1 hypertension. In contrast, green tea consumption was not associated with an increased risk of CVD mortality across all categories of blood pressure (BP),” the research team wrote in their conclusion.