I often get asked about coffee so I’ll share my current thoughts on so many peoples favorite morning drink. Clients expect me to disapprove of coffee because they think it increases the body’s acidity; or that health-conscious people are supposed to drink green tea instead; or they just think caffeine is bad for you.
Coffee is not harmful, it contains lots of antioxidants. The average amount of coffee consumed by American adults per day- 1.64 cups- provides 1,299 mg of antioxidants. Tea, the second richest source, supplied only 294 mg, followed by antioxidant-rich (but sparingly eaten) fruits and vegetables, which provide fewer than 75 mg each of antioxidants per day. Believe it or not, coffee even contains fiber- nearly 2 g per cup.
Research shows that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease by as much as 80 percent and protects against other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. It increases insulin sensitivity, and a high intake- at least six cups a day- lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by 54 percent in men and 30 percent in women. I wouldn’t recommend six cups of coffee per day especially if you have high blood pressure.
Coffee improves concentration and alertness and boosts mood. Coffee can help control asthma and can even halt a full-blown attack in its tracks. Additionally, coffee can stop migraine headaches, curb appetite, prevent tooth decay, and increase the effectiveness of aspirin and other analgesics (Anacin and Excedrin both contain caffeine). And if you drink it before working out, your endurance will improve and you’ll have less exercise-induced muscle pain.
Compared to people who avoid coffee, those who drink at least two cups a day are 80 percent less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver (even if they drink a lot of alcohol), half as likely to have gallstones, and 25 percent less apt to get colon cancer. Coffee is also protective against cancer of the liver and kidneys, and although it’s long been suspected of increasing risk of breast cancer, a recent study spanning 22 years and involving nearly 86,000 women found a weak inverse association between the two in postmenopausal females.
Some studies reveal that regular and decaffeinated coffee both have benefits. Caffeine picks up the nervous system, and increases the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine and enhances delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the muscles and brain.
So, the next time you feel like a cup of coffee, indulge yourself. It’s a good way to boost your mood, your energy, and your overall health.
Schardt D. Caffeine: The good, the bad, and the maybe. Nutrition Action Healthletter. March 2008.