Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world – it is also mega business. Coffee plants are cultivated in more than 70 countries. It is an important export commodity for Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Half the population in America drinks coffee on a daily basis. Starbucks, founded in 1971, is now the world’s biggest coffeehouse chain with over 20,000 stores in more than 60 countries. In the last five years (2009-2013) alone, Starbucks’ share price has risen more than seven-fold.
Given this widespread popularity, it is no surprise that many people have wondered if drinking coffee is an unhealthy habit. Caffeine, after all, is a stimulant drug and is addictive. For decades, medical advice from organizations like the American Heart Association has indicated that coffee may lead to high blood pressure and is bad for your heart. You may even have been told that coffee will give you an ulcer. However, in recent years, there has been an enormous amount of new research that has just pretty much exonerated coffee.
Is coffee good or bad for you? The following summarizes the latest findings on coffee and how it may actually benefits your health. Further, if you are a regular coffee drinker, there are certain things about coffee that you should also be aware of. Lastly, know that coffee may not be appropriate for everyone, if you have certain conditions, you should not be drinking coffee at all.
Latest Research On The Health Perks Of Coffee
Although not every single study shows coffee to have health-promoting properties, the majority is rather positive.
Apart from caffeine, coffee contains a natural blend of polyphenol antioxidants, bioflavonoids, B vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and chromium. Research shows that not only are the non-caffeine components of coffee anti-inflammatory, they work together synergistically to help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine. In addition, coffee may actually activate beneficial pathways in our bodies at the DNA level.
These studies show that moderate coffee consumption on a regular basis reverses cognitive impairment, cuts cancer risk, stabilizes blood sugar, and benefits the heart. In other words, coffee helps reduce the risk of many diseases:
Cancer (including breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, liver, and oral)
Diabetes (type 2)
Heart disease (including heart rhythm problems and stroke)
Important Facts For Coffee Drinkers
Even though coffee may have all the amazing health benefits, not all coffee is the same. Besides, how and when you drink it makes a difference too.
Always choose organic. Coffee is a crop that is heavily sprayed with pesticides, therefore, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee to help prevent the continued destruction of the tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them.
Always buy whole bean. Only purchase whole beans that smell and taste fresh, not stale.
You do not want to buy pre-ground coffee because you never know whether it is already rancid by the time you get it.
Darker roast is superior to light roast. The darker roasts, such as French, Italian, or those used to make expresso and Turkish coffee, are higher in neuroprotective agents than the lighter roasts. Dark roast coffee restores blood levels of the antioxidants vitamin E and glutathione more effectively than light roast coffee. Dark roast coffee is also easier on your stomach as it contains a chemical that prevents your stomach from producing excess acid.
Best time to drink coffee is in the morning. According to some research, coffee may increase your metabolism by up to 20 percent. Therefore, having a cup of organic coffee or one shot of espresso in the morning is ideal. If you exercise in the morning, have your coffee before workout as studies show that coffee boosts athletic performance, not after as the caffeine may interfere with your body’s muscle-building mechanism. However, do not go overboard, one or two cups in the morning should be the maximum for the day.
Drink your coffee without sugar, artificial sweetener, or commercial creamers. Otherwise, you are undoing all the health benefits of coffee. Excess sugar intake increases the risk of insulin resistance, suppresses the immune system, and perpetuates addictive food behavior. If you like dairy and can tolerate it, you may add organic or preferably grass-fed whole milk or cream to your coffee. Skim or non-fat milk often has more sugar than whole milk, while commercial creamers tend to have unsavory ingredients.