For years, doctors have been warning about the negative health effects of drinking coffee. You may have been told that coffee can give you stomach ulcers, raises your blood pressure, lead to heart disease, or make you diabetic.
Like everything else, coffee should not be used in excess. However, study after study has failed to prove that moderate coffee consumption increases your risk for heart disease or any other disease mentioned above.
One of the latest studies, published in April 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, confirms earlier studies that coffee may actually reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
However, if you’re dosing your cup of coffee with sugar and other sweeteners and flavorings, you are missing out on the therapeutic benefits and potentially harming your health.
Could coffee really be good for you?
When consumed in the right way, coffee can be used effectively as part of your overall health and fitness plan.
Although organic coffee as a whole food may be therapeutic, caffeine in isolation can be quite harmful. The natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants, bioflavonoids, vitamins and minerals in coffee beans all work together to help neutralize the harmful effects of the caffeine.
There are literally thousands of different natural chemical compounds in your coffee, and science now suggests the synergy between them can pack a nice nutritional punch.
What about the caffeine?
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world and can be helpful or harmful, depending on how it’s used.
Caffeine levels vary depending on the type of bean, roast, grind, and brewing method. Contrary to popular belief, darker roasts typically contain less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the prolonged heat breaking down more of the caffeine molecules.
Also, the finer the grind, the higher the caffeine in the coffee. So, you might want to consider these factors next time you buy a coffee.
If you have an issue with reduced adrenal function, use coffee with care, as it can be hard on your adrenal glands. Also, coffee has a diuretic effect, so if you have problems with electrolyte imbalance, you might want to avoid it.
But as a whole, if you’re healthy, coffee is well tolerated and the positive effects seem to outweigh the negative ones for most people. Note: Pregnant women should completely avoid using caffeine.
Health benefits of coffee
The following is a summary of some of the more recent research that supports coffee’s health benefits:
1. Type 2 diabetes: A 2010 Japanese study revealed that coffee consumption exerted a protective effect against type 2 diabetes. Also, researchers have found that coffee doubles glucose intake, which will greatly reduce blood glucose levels.
2. Alzheimer’s disease: A 2011 study revealed that a compound from coffee interacts with the caffeine to help protect you from Alzheimer’s disease
3. Parkinson’s disease: Coffee may significantly cut your risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to researchers.
4. Prostate cancer: A 2011 study found that men who drank six cups of coffee per day had 60% lower risk of prostate cancer, and those who drank three cups per day had a 30% lower risk.
5. Liver cancer: A Japanese study found those who drank coffee daily, had about half the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a type of liver cancer. Also, coffee is associated with less severe liver fibrosis, lower levels of fat in your liver, and lower rates of hepatitis-C disease progression.
6. Kidney cancer: Coffee consumption may be associated with decreased risk of kidney cancer.
7. Colorectal cancer: A 2007 study suggested coffee consumption may lower colon cancer risk among women.
8. Heart rhythm problems: A study showed moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems.
9. Stroke: A 2011 study found that women who drank more than one cup of coffee per day had about a 25% lower risk of stroke.
10. Gastrointestinal flora: A study in 2009 showed coffee produced an increase in the metabolic activity and/or numbers of Bifidobacterium, which are beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Dark roast coffee may be superior to light roast
When it comes to the health benefits of organic whole-bean black coffee, the darker the roast, the better. Roasted coffees are higher in neuroprotective agents than green (unroasted) coffees.
A new study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that dark roast coffee restored blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee.
Other studies have shown that dark roast coffee produces more of a chemical called N-methyl pyridinium, which helps prevent your stomach from producing excess acid, so darker roast coffee may be easier on your stomach than lighter roast coffee.
Coffee quality is the key: 5 tips to remember
1. Choose organic: Coffee beans are one of the most heavily sprayed crops with pesticides. So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic.
2. Whole bean: You’ll want to purchase whole bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale.
3. Drink it black: If you’re interested in the health benefits, drink your coffee black, without sugar or cream or flavorings.
4. Coffee filters: If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters.
5. Coffee mugs: Please be careful about the container you use. Avoid plastic cups as the BPA will leach into your drink, and also avoid Styrofoam cups that can leach polystyrene molecules. Your best bets include glass and ceramic travel mugs.