Coffee is Good For You (October 28, 2014)
You knew that, right? No? Why not? Probably more of that “conventional wisdom”, like slow weight loss is better than fast weight loss. Here once again, body logic and human logic are not the same thing, and how nice for a change that something we like to do without prodding is actually good for us.
Coffee does not increase the risk of cancer or heart disease. In fact it does the opposite -- there is a relationship between increased coffee consumption and decreased overall mortality, especially in diabetics. (If you're reading this at the time of day I usually send my newsletters out [4:00 a.m] that means "more coffee, less death". Go get a cup of coffee NOW.) This effect has been seen a number of times and it manifests as a 20%-30% generally lower risk of death among coffee drinkers. (This reminded me of the similar relationship between less sitting and decreased overall mortality. So clearly the thing to do during the day is to get up every once in a while for walkies and a cup of coffee.)
What could possibly make coffee healthy? Well, coffee is loaded with antioxidants and contains a number of important nutrients in meaningful quantities (particularly riboflavin and pantothenic acid but also manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin). Especially if you are drinking 2+ cups daily, these add up. And for anyone who isn’t religious about their fruits and veggies, coffee very well may be the biggest source of antioxidants in his/her diet.
There are negatives associated with consuming very large quantities of caffeinated coffee but most of the beneficial effects are seen with just one to four cups of day. So unless you are very sensitive to caffeine you will get the benefits of coffee without any drawbacks if you drink it in those quantities. (Keeping in mind that a "cup" of coffee is 5-6 ounces, not a Venti Caramel Macchiato which has 150 mg of caffeine as well as 300 calories. Just sayin'.)
Here are a few more specifics:
Also, drinking coffee improves general cognitive function. memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, and reaction times. Plus it decreases the risk of depression. These particular effects are thought to be due mostly to caffeine, which works similarly in the brain to some common antidepressants. One study with over 200,000 participants found that people who drank 4+ cups of coffee daily had a 53% less risk of suicide. But you don't necessarily have to drink that much -- many of the effects I just mentioned were found after the caffeine equivalent of a single cup of coffee.
Are you seeing these numbers? Do you see how mind-bogglingly FABULOUS they are? What do you think that Merck would be charging for coffee if they had just invented and patented it?
Now, here are the obligatory cautions: Lots of unfiltered coffee may raise cholesterol levels somewhat. Regarding caffeine specifically, in some people who break it down extra slowly it may increase heart disease levels. That may be due to a small rise in blood pressure, but that may actually disappear in regular drinkers. A lot of people worry about dehydration, but you need to drink over 400 mg of caffeine daily to see any dehydration effects, and that is well above the amount you would get in the recommended consumption of up to 4 cups daily. Since most of these studies looked at decaf as well as caffeinated coffee, you will still get most of coffee's benefits if you drink the unleaded variety. So do whatever works for you. But don't avoid for health reasons a yummy wonderful beverage that actually is good for you anymore.
--dr. diane holmes
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