By Stephanie Rackley
You can tell by this article what has been on my mind recently. I gave up coffee for about 5-6 months and then one day my husband ordered a Starbucks while on a road trip. For about three hours that's all I could smell. The delicious, rich, soothing smell of coffee. I had to take a sip of it, I just had to. Since then, that's all I've been craving.
First brought around by the Arabs, coffee houses and coffee drinkers were firmly established around the 1500's. Continuing into the 1600's, Coffee in America was used by medical doctors to 'cure' alcoholism, gout, scurvy, stomachaches, headaches, coughs, colds, indigestion and anything else they could think of. By the beginning of the 20th century, America started having doubts about coffee. News articles started blaming coffee for stunted growth, insomnia, heart palpitations and other problems. So why did it change from medicine to a disease?
Today, researchers now believe that coffee may have health benefits that protect against Type II Diabetes, Heart Disease, Parkinson's Disease and Liver Disease. It is also found to be beneficial towards cognitive ability and reducing depression. So is it just the coffee talking, stimulating our nerves and forcing us to wake up or is there more to this dark brew?
There are some contributing factors, says the research, depending on what type of coffee you're drinking and what your genetic makeup looks like, coffee could either be a friend or a foe.
Is Coffee The Friend?
The high concentration of caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant to our nervous system, which activates our brain to the 'ON' position. Because of the stimulation, research has suggested this brew improves our mental performance, including alertness and attention. That is after all why we drink it in the mornings.. to wake up.
Let's take a look that goes deeper than stimulating the nerves...
According to the research at coffeeandhealth, they suggest that a person who drinks 3-4 cups of joe daily has 25% less chance of attaining Type II Diabetes. This is due large to the fact that coffee increases insulin and your body's ability to use it. Other evidence suggests a small inverse relationship with habitual coffee drinking and strokes in women.
As the coffee consumption increases with a person, the risk of developing liver disease decreases. Liver disease includes liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, fatty liver disease and hepatitis C. Even when a person has a certain stage of liver disease, the consumption of coffee has been noted that it can slow the progression of the disease. However, because this has been noted in research, this does not mean you should treat liver disease with coffee.
Along with everything else coffee has to offer, don't forget about the trace minerals, nutrients and antioxidants. Depending on how many cups of java per day you consume, if you have a poor diet, this drink could be one of the largest sources of antioxidants you receive. Coffee also contains nutrients such as potassium, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium.
What About the Negatives?
Depending on which method you prefer to brew coffee, it could have a negative impact on your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. But wait, I thought cholesterol only came from animal products... Coffee comes from a bean, which is a plant. The two compounds in coffee called 'Cafestol' and 'Kahweol' are responsible for increasing your cholesterol levels. These two compounds are not filtered out when coffee is boiled, french pressed or brewed like turkish coffee. To stay away from these compounds, a simple paper filter works wonders for elimination.
Coffee drinkers beware if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have hypertension. Coffee temporarily increases your blood pressure and should be avoided if you have trouble with high blood pressure.
Habitually drinking coffee, like most of us (myself included) has been linked to cancer in the throat and esophageal cancer. However, most of the studies on this included patients who consumed alcohol and smoked, therefore more research needs to be conducted on this. This piece was still worth noting in this article.
Furthermore, the additions that coffee connoisseurs love to drink can rack up the calories pretty fast. A simple cup of coffee (8 ounces) only contains 1-2 calories. Adding sugar, cream or milk can add anywhere from 5-200 extra calories. Consuming this drink every morning can add up to 35-1,400 extra calories in a week.
1 tbsp Skim milk - 5 calories
1 tbsp Cream (half/half) - 20 calories
1 tbsp sugar - 50 calories
1 tbsp whipping cream - 52 calories
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