Coffee has a new healthy reputation! How’s that?

Coffee is most likely the most studied beverage on the planet and because of that there has been a lot of complex and sometimes confounding information about coffee and its impact on health.

Early observational studies of coffee consumption were not very well controlled for such variables as: associated cigarette smoking; associated poor dietary habits, such as having a little sweet roll with coffee; sedentary behaviors, such as using coffee as a stimulant to keep awake during studying or performing boring sedentary jobs; and also using lots of sugar or trans fat laden nondairy creamers or full fat cream.

Because there factors were not considered independently of the actual coffee consumption, coffee was painted with a black brush. More recently, better designed studies have revealed the health-giving aspects of pure coffee.

Especially important is the value noted of high quality, properly treated coffee.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has reviewed the latest evidence surrounding coffee as it relates to health and has given a recommendation that coffee in the moderate consumption range of three to five cups per day is considered a reasonable addition to a healthy diet.

This amount is equivalent to about 400 milligrams of caffeine. Greater than 400 mg per day is not considered healthy and is especially unhealthy for adolescents who may consume great amounts of caffeine in soft drinks and energy drinks.

Caffeine toxicity is exacerbated when combined with alcohol.

Recent studies have shown that people who drink moderate amounts of pure, high quality coffee on a regular basis, tend to live healthier lives because of the unique blend of anti-oxidant phytonutrients and the beneficial amounts of caffeine. It is, for better or for worse, the main source of antioxidants in most Americans’ diets!

Research has shown that most Americans get 40 percent of their daily antioxidants from coffee and only about 23 percent from their fruits and veggies! In part, coffee is healthier because it many times replaces sugary caffeine containing drinks. Coffee has been shown to boost energy levels, increase memory and concentration, maintain blood sugar levels, and boost mood and blood flow, as well as being a fat burning aid.

It is also an appetite suppressant. Coffee is also know to boost athletic performance (ergogenic) as well as keep body weight lower because of its thermogenic effect.

New evidence has shown that coffee consumption may convey moderate reduced risk for diabetes (type 2) and cardiovascular disease in adults.

There is also some evidence to suggest that caffeine intake and reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease may be linked.

Some of the polyphenols in coffee reduce inflammation in the body, and the good news is that the antioxidants and polyphenols are also retained in decaf coffee. Decaf also still contains the chlorogenic acid responsible for lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

People should, of course, realize that these benefits come from drinking pure coffee, not from sugar- and cream-laden coffee drinks, which could lead to increased inflammation and chance of weight gain and diabetes onset.

Overconsumption of coffee is still an issue and it is physically addictive.

Overconsumption leads to poor sleep and the jitters and people vary greatly on their tolerance to caffeine. Dehydration was once thought to be linked to coffee consumption but it has been shown that coffee taken over the day does not appreciably dehydrate the body.

For those with high cholesterol, coffee contains two oily components which can raise LDL (the bad cholesterol).

The oils are released when coffee is brewed or pressed or espressed. When coffee is made with a paper filter in place the oils are filtered out.

If you overindulge in coffee, the excess caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which explain the panic-like state you feel. The artificial energy boost from caffeine can also interfere with people’s own natural energy rhythms and can cause you to overdo work or play to your own determent.

Decaf is an answer, but it should be Swiss Water Decaf processed rather than decaffeination with chemical solvents.

Caffeine withdrawal includes fatigue, irritability, trouble concentrating and severe headache because of caffeine’s ability to constrict blood vessels in the brain. Without caffeine, the blood vessels dilate and that headache is long-term and severe. People vary in their tolerance.

As with most good things, moderation is the key!

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Jane Riley is certified nutritional adviser. She can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, (808) 212-1451, www.janerileyfitness.com

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