The Wonders of Coffee

Do you start your day with a fragrant brew you make yourself, partake of elegant confections from a skilled barista, or just grab a cup of Joe at the office or the doughnut shop? The unique taste of coffee has been enjoyed by people around the world for centuries.

You’ll be pleased to know that your teachers told you wrong back in grade school — coffee is not a harmful drink. In fact, it’s much less harmful than soda pop, even diet sodas, and other processed “fruit juice” drinks which are considered safe for children. Coffee in moderation not only has nutritional value, it contains elements that can sustain life and prevent disease.

The Truth About Coffee

To find out about coffee’s real benefits, let’s look at some of the more serious medical studies.

The most impressive report was in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In a 2005 review they looked at nine studies of long-term coffee consumption related to Type 2 diabetes. Researchers asked people to describe their coffee habits. The statistical information gathered from the studies indicated that drinking six or more cups of coffee per day reduces your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes by 50% for men, 30% for women. Eighteen more studies were reviewed in Australia and came up with similar results. The effect seems to be related to the magnesium and chromium content in coffee, and especially chlorogenic acid — an antioxidant which also gives coffee its unique flavor. These elements help the body use insulin. These health benefits may also have something to do with the caffeine in coffee, but researchers aren’t sure how that works. Decaffeinated coffee seemed not to be as effective.

If you already have Type 2 diabetes, caffeine may not be good for you because it elevates blood sugar levels. Consult your doctor to make sure.

One to three cups of coffee per day reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, especially for women. This information comes from a Norwegian study that also showed coffee actually contains more antioxidants than a similar amount of fruit juice. The Nurses’ Health Study, which has been tracking over two hundred thousand nurses since 1976, came up with similar findings. The NHS and other studies have also found that for some people, coffee acts as an antidepressant and may reduce the risk of suicide. A preliminary study using flies indicates that coffee may prevent Parkinson’s disease. And a long-term Japanese study tracked ninety thousand older people for ten years, finding a possible connection between coffee drinking and reduced risk of liver cancer. Italian doctors are also looking at coffee’s positive effects on the liver and gall bladder.

Coffee does contain elements which elevate cholesterol, but you can keep from ingesting those simply by using paper filters. And coffee is known to elevate blood pressure, but if you keep drinking the same amount every day, your blood pressure will stabilize.

Preparation Makes The Difference

What kind of coffee is best for a health drink? Stick with organic shade-grown fair trade coffee. A medium roast is better, because you’ll get more antioxidants. Use a coffee machine with paper filters, rather than a press.

Any good cup of coffee starts with clean equipment. Baking soda is a coffee-lover’s friend. Use it to clean your coffee cups and filter holders. Mix half a cup with one cup of water and run it through your coffee machine, followed with a full pot of plain water.

Children and Coffee

Should children drink coffee? They have done so in Europe and South America for centuries. In some countries coffee is part of school breakfast. American children drink sodas that have as much or more caffeine than a typical cup of coffee; and sodas don’t have the nutrients that coffee does. Teenagers who drink coffee quickly find out how much is too much and adjust their consumption accordingly.

If you’ve been told your child has ADHD, consider giving him or her a cup of coffee in the morning. If your child seems calmer and better able to concentrate with coffee, you may be able to avoid prescription methamphetamines and their side effects.

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