Coffee is Actually Good For You! (Thank God…)

Coffee

“Coffee is the lifeblood
that fuels the dreams of champions!”

-(Mike Ditka as himself in Kicking and Screaming)

I have often laughed at the advice of  ”no more than 1-2 cups a day”.  Despite being a nutritionist, I’ve already had 2 cups of coffee before I’ve even opened my second eyelid in the morning…

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t abuse the stuff, but I usually have 2 cups in the morning, then a large cup (so two servings) of iced coffee in the afternoon, and I sometimes finish my day with a cup after dinner or before bed. I may occasionally have a third cup in the morning if I need it. With concerns over what I’ve learned from outdated research, I have wondered about everything from losing bone density to getting cancer if I’m not careful with my coffee intake.

But thankfully, a lot of research has been done on coffee and recent studies have shown that;

 

1. Coffee isn’t nearly as bad for you as they used to think

and

2. Coffee actually has health benefits.

 

Let’s be clear, no food is all good or all bad for you, there are good and bad components to everything you eat. Coffee has over 1000 naturally occurring chemicals; some good for you and some not.

Coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the American diet  (yes, really!).   The specific type are called polyphenols (also found in red wine, tea, and chocolate), which are thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease, cancers, osteoporosis and even diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. [1]  Possible Health Benefits Of Coffee include:

1. Decreased risk of diabetes

It is believed that some of the polyphenols found in coffee help regulate glucose levels.

2. Decreased risk of certain cancers

So far, studies show a decreased risk of colon, prostate, and endometrial cancers.

3. Decreased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease

This may be due to the possible relationship between the polyphenols and nerve signaling.

4. Decreased risk of developing depression

A major study done in 2011 showed that women consuming large amounts of coffee (more than three cups a day), were 15 percent less likely of developing depression. This may be due to the effect of coffee on serotonin levels.

5. Possible reduction in stroke

It was once thought that coffee would increase risk of heart disease and stroke, but the latest studies are finding that it may actually help with reducing inflammation, thus reducing chance of stroke.

 

Some other findings have included an increase in life expectancy and a decrease in cognitive decline with aging.

Let’s not forget the functional and athletic advantages of coffee drinking which include increased alertness, reaction time, and improved performance.

There are cautions with coffee, however. People react differently to coffee, and caffeine, which may be due to adaptivity to the substance or even genetic factors. Some people can get jittery from just one cup, while others like myself, can have an espresso and go right to sleep. Because of the stimulant effects of coffee, heart attack risk can be increased in cardiac patients not used to drinking coffee. Coffee should be avoided by people who have certain health problems and it can cause stomach issues due to the acidity.

While coffee has some pros and cons, you can feel confident that drinking your daily coffee is probably not bad for your health, and may even be good for it.

[1] Am J Clin Nutr January 2005 vol. 81 no. 1 215S-217S

About Kimberly Dawson, M.S.

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