A growing body of evidence according to Web MD asserts that coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia as well as certain types of cancers, heart arrhythmias and strokes than those who do not drink coffee. There is also much evidence that coffee is helpful in weight control and in assisting certain types of athletic performance.
Dr. Frank Hu, a nutrition and epidemiology professor at Harvard School of Public Health, notes that drinking coffee has more health benefits than health disadvantages. He notes that the evidence on coffee drinking and type 2 diabetes is solid. The majority of studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of coffee helps prevent type 2 diabetes and there is also evidence that decaf works as well. The key is the antioxidants found in coffee which are nutrients that help prevent tissue damage from free radicals. Coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use insulin more functionally.
Coffee may lower several risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Of course, type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, but further, coffee has been shown to lower the risk of heart arrhythmias. This trend is noticed in people who drink only one to three cups of coffee per day.
The correlation between coffee consumption and lower rates of Parkinson’s disease is very strong and it appears to have some association with the caffeine in coffee. This same is true with certain types of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease.
A long-term study from Finland following 1,400 people over the course of 20 years showed that those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had a 65 percent less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia compared with non-coffee drinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
Dr. Hu notes that the evidence for coffee’s protective benefits against cancer is weaker than the data for type 2 diabetes, but for liver cancer the documentation is strong. He notes that high coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of liver cirrhosis as well as liver cancer.
Those who are pregnant are warned that large amounts of coffee can lead to miscarriage, premature delivery and adverse effects of fetal growth, but 200 mg of caffeine or less is not implicated in these issues. A 12-ounce cup of coffee contains about 200 mg of caffeine.
Coffee by itself is a low calorie drink. However, when you start adding in cream, sugar, flavors and non-dairy creamers you rack up the calories pretty quickly. A six-ounce cup of coffee has seven calories. A teaspoon of sugar adds 23 calories. Add cream or creamer and each tablespoon has about 45-50 calories. That can get in the way of any weight loss benefits that you might otherwise derive from coffee drinking. Drinking coffee can help you manage your hunger as well as lead to improved energy levels during a workout.
In order to derive the best benefits from coffee consumption pick a medium roast coffee that maintains the integrity of the phytochemicals. Also get one that is organic and not laden with pesticides and chemicals that poison your body.
The other issue to consider is that you want your coffee to be free of molds and mycotoxins. It is best if you purchase a coffee that has added minerals to offset the natural acidity in coffee so as to maintain your bone health and a brand that is produced in small batches to ensure quality.
Also, avoid coffee consumption late in the day. Sleep is an imperative to a healthy lifestyle and also to weight control. If you are sensitive to caffeine enjoy your coffee earlier in the day. A moderate range of three to five cups of coffee per day (up to 400 mg of caffeine) seems to be where people derive the most benefit and the least amount of adverse effects.
Hope your new year is filled with all things wonderful and bright. Wishing you and yours a healthy and happy new year. Aloha!
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (808) 212-8119 cell/text, www.janerileyfitness.com.