Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Picture Source: Gryphon Cafe (Wayne, PA) website

I surprise most people when I say that I am a big advocate of coffee. For some reason, most people I come across are afraid to tell me that they drink coffee and believe I will tell them it is bad for them. Quite the contrary! Personally, I really like coffee and probably drink 12-16 oz each day. While I advocate coffee, I do not advocate drinking copious amounts (more than 3 cups/day) because doing so can stress the heart.

Here are my reasons why coffee is healthy:
  • If it’s black, it is a very low-calorie beverage choice
  • The caffeine in it can actually aid in weight loss and boost the metabolism
  • Studies have shown that heavy coffee drinkers are at significantly lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers (possibly linked to the increase in metabolism) (2)
  • In men, coffee is shown to be protective against Parkinson’s disease
  • Though still controversial, coffee may be protective against certain cancers possibly due to the high level of antioxidants (and protective against colon cancer because it keeps things “moving” through the digestive tract)
  • Drinking tea and coffee during midlife may help protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia later in life (3)
  • Coffee helps prevent constipation and keeps waste moving through your system (see colon cancer bullet) which helps keep your digestive system clear
 The caffeine content of coffee varies on the brew style and type of bean, but is generally safe unless consumed in high quantities or consumed by people with pre-existing heart condtions or other illnesses where coffee is not recommended. Research is still inconclusive, but seems to support that coffee consumption does not increase blood pressure long-term. Below is the average caffeine content of coffee beverages (4):
  • brewed: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 80–135 mg.
  • drip: 1 cup (7 oz, 207 ml) = 115–175 mg.
  • espresso: 1 shot (1.5–2 oz, 45–60 ml) = 100 mg
Negative side effects of coffee consumption:
  • Inhibits the absorption of iron (and other nutrients), which can lead to iron deficiency anemia
  • Caffeine in coffee may aggravate pre-existing conditions such as GERD and heart arrhythmias and may lead to dependency
  • In one study, there were thousands of chemicals found in roasted coffee, and 19/28 were rodent carcinogens. However, humans have many protective enzymes against these carcinogens and they may not be harmful (5). 
My recommendation:
Enjoy your daily cup of coffee (or two) but do not add excessive amounts of sweetener or half-and-half. Sure, you can use it if you watch the rest of your diet… just don’t be like Manny on Modern Family who adds several sugar packets to one ounce of expresso. Also, be wary of flavored creamers which often contain Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (trans fat)- even if they say they are fat free!!! They also probably contain High Fructose Corn Syrup, so just read the label.

1.  Coffee Health Benefits: Coffee may protect against disease. February 2006.  Harvard Health Letter. 
2.  Pereira, Mark A; Parker, Emily D; Folsom, Aaron R (2006). “Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: an 11-year prospective study of 28 812 postmenopausal women”. Archives of Internal Medicine 166 (12): 1311–6. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.12.1311. PMID 16801515. http://archinte.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/166/12/1311.
3. “Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-life Dementia”. ScienceDaily. January 15, 2009. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090114200005.htm. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
4. Bunker, ML; McWilliams, M (January 1979). “Caffeine content of common beverages”. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 74 (1): 28–32.
5. Ames, Bruce N; Gold, Lois Swirsky (1998). “The causes and prevention of cancer: the role of environment”. Biotherapy 11 (2–3): 205–20. doi:10.1023/A:1007971204469

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