Coffee for your health?

I’ve always slightly tainted coffee as an unfavorable drink that cunningly grabs people in with its addictive caffeinated affects.  Until relatively recently, I viewed it as a drink for those who are dependent, almost weak, willing to frivolously spend their money on something differing not too far from a pack of cigs.

It’s not that I myself didn’t love the bold taste and the even more delightful smell of the roasted coffee grounds brewing in the morning.  I had one too many sips from my daddy’s daily styrofoam cups, luring in my little kid nose with its sweet smell, not to enjoy the taste of coffee as I grew into an adult.  Like cigarettes, after enough repeated tastes, it’s hard not too fall in love with coffee.

It’s just that I always viewed coffee as little more than a treat, one that I wasn’t willing to let take a tenacious hold on my wallet or my mind.  If I was tired in the morning, I certainly wasn’t one of the 50% of Americans running for coffee to lift my droopy eyes.  That’s what sleep was for, and if I missed a few needed hours of shut-eye the night before, I wasn’t going to rely on a drug to cure my energy depletion.  Rather, I’d take the”healthy” and free route and make an effort to get a little extra sleep the following night.  No morning coffee for me.

That is, until I went to London…and discovered how people could so easily get addicted to caffeine.  A few late nights, a coffee shop on every corner, and a handful of friends drinking energy drinks as if they were water, and pretty soon I was beginning to shed my unfavorable views of coffee.  A trip to the boot-shaped country specializing in oh-so tasty espresso later, and I was hooked.

No, not in the addictive/dependency kind of way.  More like the “nothing’s better than a morning cup of Joe while reading the newspaper” kind of way.  Don’t get me wrong, you still won’t find me drinking coffee anywhere close to every morning. I hate getting addicted to things.  But I just love the taste, and the slight buzz that comes with it.  Yes, coffee is still my little “treat,” but a treat I’ve started to enjoy at least once or twice a week.

And ever since, I’ve been reading all of these studies showing the health benefits of a cup of coffee!  For one, coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  A study published by the American Association for cancer showed a possible link between coffee and a reduced risk of head and throat cancer. Another study done by Harvard showed that drinking coffee may reduce your chance of getting Parkinson’s disease (esp. if you’re a man) by as much as 80%!

These results surely aren’t because of coffee’s pernicious little ingredient, caffeine.  In fact, it’s probably best just to stick with decaf all together.  According to Women’s Health magazine, “coffee has more antioxidants than almost any other food,” which is probably the primary reason it has shown some noted health benefits.

The bottom line:  A cup of regular coffee won’t kill you, and in fact it might even do you some good with all the anti-inflammatory properties in contains.  I certainly won’t be swapping my regular consumption of tea for coffee, but I won’t feel bad about sipping on a morning cup every now and then.

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  • Reply
    Simply Life
    September 5, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Great to know about! I used to be addicted to coffee but stopped and now can drink it when I’m in the mood, and not drink it when I don’t want to , and feel great both ways!

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    September 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    As you’ve probably read on my posts before, I LOVE coffee. I don’t necessarily love it for the caffeine (although I know that’s a huge plus) but like you said, it’s the perfect morning drink while I’m reading my blogs (or the newspaper). I love reading about all of the benefits of coffee, but I wish it didn’t stain my teeth so much, HA! I will admit I probably drink too much (about 4 cups, which is about 300-350 mg caffeine, too much!) but I don’t have the rapid heart rate or high blood pressure that in some may accompany the high intake of caffeine. So I keep drinking! And loving it 🙂

  • Reply
    shenid
    September 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for highlighting the benefits of (moderate) coffee drinking. Yes, we all do overindulge especially those of us who are addicted. But, is soo good in the morning.

    Two other coffee issues I believe are worth noting:

    1) Farmers: coffee growers in the developing world still get a few pennies of each of the $80 billion plus dollars spent on coffee every year. This documentary was a released a few years ago, and is worth a watch – Black Gold (see: http://bit.ly/bKNvHH ).
    2) Disposable cups!: I wish I could make everyone who uses a disposable cup adds one more cup to the 80 billion (paper and polystyrene) cups that end up in American landfills every year. Some information and statisics here: http://bit.ly/auGtFI and http://bit.ly/ch1CEB and some suggestions on how to reduce disposable cup usage here http://bit.ly/cwTI0P ).

    -shenid

  • Reply
    Jenna@ Healthy. Happy. Well.
    September 7, 2010 at 2:22 am

    I am one of those weak coffee drinkers. I admit that it’s one of the first things i think about in the morning. I don’t know how it got to this point…eeek, but it’s always reassuring to hear good news about it! So thanks for the silver lining!

  • Reply
    melindard
    September 7, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I once wrote an article on this topic (actually caffeine in general) for a local dietetic association, and the editors came back and said I better put in all the positives since I had only negatives. I was a dietetic intern and that was a major learning experience for me. It never pays to have bias when you are writing, but I think in some cases it is inevitable. So, after further research, I came across some of the things you have here in your post, particularly Parkinson’s.

  • Reply
    TheHealthyApron
    September 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Just found your site and wanted to say hello!! I wish I could get in to coffee because you are right..it does have some sweet health benefits! It’s the taste that bugs me and after I add all the cream/sugar to doctor it up…it’s not so healthy anymore lol

  • Reply
    theexperfectionist
    September 7, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Kudos to you chica! Kudos for your writing. I’ve been having this heavy feeling associated with my blog lately. The feeling like I need to do more writing. I am an English: Journalism major for crying out loud. Sometimes I get too focused on keeping up with everyone else. I enjoyed your pictures of your travels, but I really dig your ninja-like writing skills. 😀

  • Reply
    Andrea@WellnessNotes
    September 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    I love coffee! I love the taste, the ritual, and, yes, I love the little “kick” it gives me! And, there is nothing better than enjoying it in Europe… 🙂

  • Reply
    Nicole
    September 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Mmmm coffee! Not only do I love the stuff, but it suppresses my appetite BIG TIME! Always a plus for those who are always looking to shed a few 🙂

  • Reply
    Angela (the diet book junkie)
    September 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    mmm…..coffee. i love everything about it! not just the caffeine, but the smell, the taste, the warm comforting feeling. my favourite brand comes from Italy, jealous that you got to experience it first hand 🙂

  • Reply
    marla {family fresh cooking}
    September 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Great post! What about those of us that drink about 5 cups of coffee a day? Yup, that is my weakness. I have read for quite some time that a small amount is good, but I am not so sure about my large habit! Having 2 small kids encourages caffeine consumption! xo

  • Reply
    erin m. @ {{well in l.a.}}
    September 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    A former once-a-day (lying…3-4 times a day) coffee drinker. I now switch it up with tea, but now notice the caffeine jolt unlike never before when I have a cup. Thank you for clearly presenting two sides to this issues of coffee. I continue to read the positive benefits of coffee, from your aforementioned antioxidant standpoint, to its benefits of warding off diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. So despite its downfalls, I don’t think I’ll ever swear it off completely and the benefits can be achieved from decaff, which makes it a little better :). Everything in moderation, right??

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