Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Healthy Reasons To Keep Loving Coffee

I love coffee in the morning to start my day and I can't imagine giving it up, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read a recent study, which found that drinking coffee is linked to positive emotions, including pleasure, kindness, affection, satisfaction, friendship, calm and happiness.  I agree, but being a foodie and concerned about good health and nutrition, I knew that coffee has long been considered a vice.  But there are pros and cons regarding the consumption of coffee:

Pro:  Coffee contains antioxidants 
Coffee beans are the seeds inside of a bright red berry, sometimes called a coffee berry.  Like all plant foods, the berries and seeds are rich in antioxidants.  Research concludes that coffee is the # 1 source of antioxidants in the American diet.  The reason for this is probably because one out of every two Americans begin their day with a cup of java, while 75% fall short of the minimum recommended five servings of fruits and veggies.

Pro:  Coffee may reduce the risk of diabetes
Several studies support a link between coffee intake and diabetes protection, including Harvard research, which found that a six cup a day habit reduced men's diabetes risk by over 50% and women's by 30% compared to non-coffee drinkers.  The researchers do agree that the consumption of caffeine should be moderated, but believe that reduced diabetes is related to the antioxidants in coffee which protect insulin resistance.

Pro:  Coffee is tied to lower rates of other diseases
Studies show that compared to non-coffee drinks, those who indulge are likely to experience a lower risk of colon cancer, liver cirrhosis, gallstones, breast and endometrial cancer.  In addition, extensive studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson's.  Based on this research, Parkinson's drugs that contain a derivative of caffeine are currently being developed.

Pro:  Coffee may fend off aging
Studies show that caffeine may affect the loss of muscle strength that occurs in aging.  Other studies have found that caffeine may prevent brain inflammation, a precursor to cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's.

Pro:  Coffee is not dehydrating - If you're consistent
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it triggers fluid loss.  However, newer research indicates that after about five days of consistent caffeine intake, your body adjusts, which negates the dehydrating effect.

Con:  Coffee may up the risk of some conditions
Natural substances in coffee have been shown to raise your cholesterol levels.  Two or more cups a day can increase the risk of heart disease.  In addition, if you have high blood pressure, you should limit your caffeine intake, and that can be tricky - Since hypertension has no symptoms, you may not know you even have it.

Con:  Caffeine tolerance varies widely
Some people can drink a strong cup of coffee and go to sleep in 30 minutes.  The others, even a small amount can cause stomach upset, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness and headaches.  In addition, combining coffee with other stimulants can have a synergistic effect, which may dangerously raise blood pressure, even in healthy adults.

Bottom line:  Moderation 
If you don't love coffee now, don't begin drinking it.  But if you love coffee, it still may provide some disease protection.  I recommend consistently drinking one or two cups in the morning, then switching to spring water or green tea.  Also drink coffee in moderation by adding organic plant-based milk, such as almond, hemp, coconut or rice milk.  Season it with antioxidant rich calorie free spices like ground ceylon cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla beans.  I also use raw organic honey in my coffee for a little sweetness.

Please send me your comments and suggestions!

Intuitively yours,
Laurel ♥

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