It used to be popular to say that drinking coffee was bad for you. After all, its main ingredient, caffeine, is a known stimulant. But recently published research suggests that, taken in moderation, coffee might not be as harmful as you think.
Let’s get coffee’s old reputation out of the way first. Some of the negative press the drink has got was because the people being studied were also heavy smokers and got little exercise, something researchers back then didn’t even consider. Modern research takes a balanced view and has found significant benefits from drinking coffee for some of the most harmful human diseases.
Fighting Disease with Coffee
Female coffee drinkers reduce their risk of heart disease by 25%, and all coffee drinkers reduce their risk of colon cancer by the same amount. There’s a 50% risk reduction for gallstones, up to 65% for dementia, 60% for diabetes and up to a whopping 80% risk reduction for cirrhosis and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee has also been found to provide relief from headaches and asthma – and to protect teeth from cavities.
How It Works
Not too shabby, is it? So, how does coffee do all this? One of the key benefits of coffee lies in the antioxidants that form part of its makeup. These fight free radicals and help to repair damaged cells. Its mineral content (magnesium, chromium and others) and help people to metabolize insulin, which might be the reason it helps with type 2 diabetes.
Healthy Coffee Drinking
That doesn’t mean it’s OK to drink coffee all day long; though a few cups during the day probably won’t hurt most people. The Mayo Clinic recommends 200-300 mg a day (about 2-4 cups) as a healthy amount of coffee. More than that, and you might start to get a bit jittery. And don’t forget, while coffee on its own may have health benefits, being too liberal with the milk, sugar and other additions will also have consequences. As always with food and drink, it’s about moderation.
The next time you feel like a cup from the office coffee machine or your local coffee shop, you don’t have to feel guilty. Instead you can relax and enjoy, knowing that you might be reducing your risk of life threatening diseases.
- Top Health Benefits of Coffee – About.Com.
- Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and health: a review of recent human research. [Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006]
- Coffee and health: What does the research say? – MayoClinic.com