Coffee drinkers often are concerned that their delicious java is too much of a good thing and that it must be bad for you. After all, it tastes great and really peps you up. Researchers say coffee is generally safe with moderate consumption and that, surprisingly, coffee is good for your health. Several studies have linked coffee with reduced risks of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.
Coffee beans contain antioxidants and other substances that provide these health benefits. Additionally, the antioxidants are found in either regular or decaf coffee.
Diabetes Coffee Benefits
The anti-oxidants found in coffee may help to regulate blood sugar. Recent research has found that if a woman drinks about 3 cups of coffee a day, she can reduce her risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 to 30 percent. The coffee anti-oxidants that are believed to be responsible are chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid. Coffee is also thought to help promote the delivery of insulin to the tissues. When this happens efficiently, insulin resistance is less likely, which is a significant risk factor for diabetes.
Gallstones Coffee Benefits
Certain compounds in coffee appear to help prevent bile from crystallizing, which causes gallstones.
Parkinson’s Disease Coffee Benefits
Caffeine may cut the risk of Parkinson’s disease by increasing the brain chemical dopamine supplies in men.
Heart Coffee Benefits
At least one large study has suggested that drinking one to two cups of coffee a day protects the heart. But increasing your intake to four to five cups of coffee in the morning contributes to elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones that endure into the evening.
Moderate to heavy caffeine intake will cause the body to react in a stressful manner. If you then add a real stressful activity or situation, the combination with the stress hormones from caffeine, you then have a compounded effect. An increase in stress, which may increase blood pressure, even just a slight amount, can be significant from a clinical perspective. Increased blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of coronary disease or a stroke.
Unfiltered coffee will also increase the level of cholesterol, which leads to heart disease. The use of a paper filter partially removes these substances. If you use a coffee press or a metallic filter, you are at an increased risk than using a paper filter.
A study released in 2006 found that people with a genetic defect will process caffeine up to four times more slowly than those with a normal gene. This defect leads to an early conclusion that coffee can cause people heart problems, but only if they have a genetic defect, which may cause previous studies that had conflicting results.
Caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict, which can trigger the blood pressure to increase if caffeine remains in the body for a more extended period, potentially harming the body.
Coffee and Cancer
A comprehensive review published in 1997 by the American Institute of Cancer Research in Washington and the World Cancer Research Fund in London found that coffee was not carcinogenic. The findings indicated that coffee might help to prevent cancer of the colon. The risk of colon cancer was lowered by 24% for those drinking four cups of coffee a day among people observed in various studies spanning several years. This analysis was comprised of 17 studies from 1960 to 1990 on colorectal cancer and coffee.
Japanese researchers reported in 2005 that people who drank coffee every day over ten years were half as likely to get liver cancer as those who didn't drink it at all. It is not clear whether caffeine is responsible for the reduction in cases.
Coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the American diet. Antioxidants have been linked to various health benefits, including protection from cancer and heart disease. Fruits and vegetables are packed with more antioxidants and are a higher nutritional benefit than coffee, but the problem is that most consumers are not eating enough of them. Experts say that drinking one to two cups of coffee a day does appear to provide a health boost because of these antioxidants.
Coffee does not appear to be responsible for cancer and may even confer some protective benefit. And the more you drink, it seems, the lower your risk.
When is too much coffee bad for you?
Research findings have linked drinking three or more cups of coffee a day with increased heart risk. Coffee can raise the level of amino acid, called homocysteine, which might harm the arteries. The caffeine in coffee may also raise blood pressure, though this is not proven.
Drinking or eating a large amount of caffeine can also speed bone loss, reduce birth weight and raise miscarriage risk. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are advised not to drink more than two cups of coffee a day. The same is also true for postmenopausal women to guard their bones.
Caffeine is known to precipitate heartburn, rapid heartbeat, and anxiety.
Caffeine is found in many types of food and beverages, so careful monitoring of your caffeine content being consumed is essential. Coffee does have one of the highest doses of caffeine.
Antioxidants in Coffee
A recent Pennsylvania study found that coffee offers the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. The study researched tea, coffee, cocoa and other foods.
Because Americans drink so much coffee, they get more of their antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source,” says Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at The University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. “Nothing else comes close,” according to Vinson.
They concluded that the average adult consumes 1,299 mg antioxidants daily from coffee. The second-largest source but at a distance was tea at 294 mg. The next highest source was bananas at 76 mg, dry beans at 72 mg and corn at 48 mg.
This does not mean that we should stop eating fruits and vegetable which have a much higher nutritional value due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The sad fact is that the American consumer does not eat enough fruits and vegetables, so coffee is the largest antioxidant source.
While tea has been receiving popularity in health circles, these studies prove that coffee is far superior in antioxidants, which help battle cancer and provide other health benefits.