Pass the Java: The Healthy Side of Coffee
Have you been trying to kick the coffee habit? Well, before you say good-bye to your favorite morning drink forever, you may be interested in hearing coffee may not be so bad for you after all. In fact, it’s been linked to a variety of health benefits. Did you know that one study shows even one cup of coffee each day can cut your risk for Parkinson’s disease in half?
Coffee’s full of healthful components like magnesium, potassium and vitamin B3. And coffee is the American’s number one source of antioxidants, says one 2005 study from the University of Scranton. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that one-cup of coffee can have more antioxidants than a serving of blueberries or oranges. Antioxidants play a key role in reducing the inflammation which is associated with many health problems ranging from heart disease to rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor who led the Scranton study, says, “Antioxidants are your army to protect you from the toxic free radicals, which come from breathing oxygen and eating sugar, that start chronic diseases. Antioxidants help stave off cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.” It may be the high level of antioxidants that helps coffee protect the heart.
Researchers from Norway looked at data involving more than 27,000 women in the Iowa Women’s Health Study and found women who drank 1-3 cups of coffee each day had a 24 percent reduction in risk of heart disease compared with women who didn’t drink coffee at all. Women who drank as much as five cups a day showed up to a 19 percent decrease in risk of death from all causes. However, the study also concluded that more is not always better. Drinking more than six cups of coffee per day did not seem to increase benefits significantly.
Analysis of a collection of studies from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed evidence that consuming coffee can lower the risk of developing type II diabetes. Studies which looked at decaffeinated coffee showed similar results. The benefits increased with the amount of coffee drank: up 28 percent for those who drank at least four cups per day, and up 35 percent for people who drank more than six. However, just because coffee is good for you doesn’t mean you should overload your body with caffeine. Rob van Dam is a Harvard scientist and the lead author of a study which showed the amount of caffeine in just two cups of coffee can constrict blood flow to the heart. ”I wouldn’t advise people to increase their consumption of coffee in order to lower their risk of disease,” says Dr. Van Dam, “but the evidence is that for most people without specific conditions, coffee is not detrimental to health. If people enjoy drinking it, it’s comforting to know that they don’t have to be afraid of negative health effects.” Fortunately, most of these benefits can still be enjoyed if you drink decaffeinated coffee, so you don’t have to take in surplus caffeine just for the antioxidants’ sake. It’s also a good idea to look for coffee made from organic sources to limit your exposure to chemical pesticides. At any rate, rest assured you can enjoy your morning cup of joe without regret – so long as you go easy on the sugar.