Good News About Coffee!
Coffee can actually be healthy for you! This is good news for all coffee lovers out there. Many people assume that caffeine is bad for you. Caffeine has been blamed for everything from high blood pressure to cancer. Many people still avoid caffeinated beverages because they worry about the health effects. However, current research reveals that not only is coffee safe but it even offers some health benefits.
Some of the most significant research recently relates to caffeine and diabetes. A study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that participants who regularly drank coffee significantly reduced the risk of onset of type 2 diabetes, compared to non-coffee drinking participants. Scientists are quick to caution against increasing your caffeine intake as a way to decrease your risk of diabetes as they aren’t sure why caffeine is beneficial to diabetes and have indicated that more research is needed. However, it does clearly show that coffee may be healthier than people have thought in the past.
In other promising research, at least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson's, with three studies showing the more they drink, the lower the risk. Also, research shows that coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, discourage the development of colon cancer, improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease.
Contrary to popular opinions, coffee can also actually be beneficial to heart health. One study found women who drink two to three cups of coffee a day have a 25% lower risk of heart disease and an 18% lower risk of developing diseases other than cancer than non-coffee drinkers. And, some research indicates that coffee can offset some of the damage caused by other vices. People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee compared to those who don't. These health benefits may be linked to the anti-inflammatory properties in coffee as well as its rich supply of antioxidants. On the flip side, however, caffeine is also linked to coronary vasospasms - the cause for 20% of all fatal heart attacks. Both decaf and regular coffee increase cholesterol and homocysteine, the biochemical that is linked to increased risk for heart attack.
More good news about coffee - it also can have beneficial effects that people can relate to on a daily basis. Caffeine can help with headaches as it is a mild analgesic, or painkiller, and it has the ability to increase the availability of other analgesics that it's combined with. It also can cause blood vessels to constrict which assists with those types of headaches which are caused by the dilation of blood vessels.
Caffeine can improve mood and irritability in some folks. Studies have shown that people report increased well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability after consuming caffeine in moderation. This may be the reason that women who drank coffee were less likely to commit suicide than those who drank none. Beware, however –consuming excessive amounts of caffeine can produce increased anxiety, nervousness, jitteriness, and upset stomach in some people.
Coffee can enhance athletic endurance and performance. Caffeine helps the body burn fat instead of carbohydrates, and it blunts the perception of pain. Both can boost endurance. In fact, caffeine works so well in boosting athletic performance; it used to be on the list of banned substances from the International Olympic Committee. Even though caffeine has now been removed from the list of prohibited substances, the controversy continues as experts differ in their opinions as to whether caffeine consumption on the day of performance can give an athlete an unfair advantage or not.
Why is coffee healthy? This is largely attributed to the antioxidants present in coffee. In fact, a recent study found that coffee is the No.1 source of antioxidants in the U.S., largely because Americans drink so much of it. Coffee has large amounts of antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid and tocopherols, and minerals such as magnesium which are beneficial in a variety of ways. For example, antioxidants help quell inflammation, which might explain coffee's effect in inflammation-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Magnesium in coffee might help make cells more sensitive to insulin.
This is not to say that coffee is completely innocent or that you should drink coffee to prevent disease. Caffeine, coffee's main ingredient, is a mildly addictive stimulant. And coffee does have modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat that should be considered. However, the studies clearly show that consuming coffee in moderation definitely can have beneficial effects on your health.
Conclusion: There is no health reason to avoid consuming caffeine or coffee. If you enjoy it, go ahead and drink it in moderation. However, if your goal is to prevent disease, it is too early in the research to say that coffee is a health drink!