Coffee — for the health of it

February 24, 2012

Food, Health

Dutch researchers have found that your daily morning coffee appears to cut your risk of heart disease by more than one-third.

by Paula Owens — 

Do you love your morning cup of coffee? Well, drink up because the health benefits of coffee far outweigh the risks. A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that people who drank four cups of coffee daily lost 1.5 pounds of body fat in four weeks.

According to a European study, a daily cup of coffee reduces oxidative damage to your DNA by an impressive 40 percent. Coffee contains polyphenols, which help protect cells from oxidation. For these benefits to be realized, the coffee has to be a special Arabica blend rich in unroasted (green) and roasted bean compounds, which gives coffee its super antioxidant boost and accounts for its apparent power to reduce DNA damage.

Coffee can help prevent diabetes, cleanse the liver and reduce the risk of stroke. Researchers at Harvard Medical School say drinking coffee may also help prevent Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and cancer.

Dutch researchers have found that your daily morning coffee appears to cut your risk of heart disease by more than one-third. A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, a journal of the American Heart Association, revealed that those who drank between two and four cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of heart disease by 20 percent, compared with those who drank either more or fewer cups of coffee.

Regular coffee drinking may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Scientists reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that coffee consumption prevents the development of high blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. Additional lab studies showed that caffeine may be “one of the most effective anti-diabetic compounds in coffee,” according to the scientists.

In yet another study, the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias reported that caffeine may have a protective effect on the likelihood of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Drinking two or more cups a day was found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 25 percent. The likelihood of developing gallstones was decreased by nearly 50 percent in those who drank at least two cups of coffee a day, and liver cirrhosis was reduced by a whopping 80 percent in those who drank two or more cups a day.

Caffeine can enhance athletic performance by increasing endurance. If you are going to drink coffee, it is great before exercise (pre-training); however, it is the worst thing you can ingest after exercise (post-training), unless you want to initiate a “cortisol fest” and gain belly fat. You want a high cortisol level during exercise, not after.

Pregnant women should avoid coffee. Offspring of mothers who consume coffee tend to have increased risks of small birth weight. Just two cups of coffee ingested during pregnancy may be enough to affect fetal heart development and reduce heart function over the entire lifespan of the child.

Those with adrenal fatigue should limit their intake of coffee, as it stimulates the adrenals — hormones that activate your fight-or-flight response. If your adrenal hormones are stimulated too often from excess caffeine consumption, they may eventually burn out.

There are some other negative consequences to consider. Excessive coffee consumption promotes dehydration and over the long-term depletes your B vitamin and calcium supply. In addition, some women can drink all the coffee they want and not have fibrocystic breast problems but, unfortunately, women with fibrocystic breast problems are always caffeine-sensitive and should avoid coffee.

An important note: Not just any coffee will do. Opt for organic coffee, due to the high pesticide content in non-organic coffee. Consumer Reports magazine cautioned readers last year about the potential negative health effects of pesticides. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group urges consumers “to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.”

Need a sweetener? SteviaPlus® is the optimal choice. This herb will not elevate your blood sugar and has zero calories. If you are watching your waistline, take a pass on the Starbucks Frappuccino® with whipped cream (dessert in a cup). A Venti White Chocolate Blended Creme Frappuccino® (without whipped cream) is 630 calories and 9g of fat. Add whipped cream and you are at 760 calories, 9g of sugar and 21g of fat.

Avoid sweetened syrups and flavored creamers (which are high in trans fats); both of these are nutritionally void and loaded with calories. You should definitely stay away from sugar-free syrups, which are full of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

As with anything, moderation is the key.


“Coffee and caffeine ameliorate hyperglycemia, fatty liver and inflammatory adipocytokine expression in spontaneously diabetic KK-Ay mice,” J Agric Food Chem, 2010, 58 (9), pp 5597–5603.

“Caffeine consumption during pregnancy and risk of preterm birth: a meta-analysis,” Am J Clin Nutr, 2010, 92: 1120-1132.


Paula Owens, M.S., is a nutritionist, a multi-certified fitness expert and holistic health practitioner with more than 20 years of experience. She is the author of The Power of 4. Paula is also the creator of 21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You, an online exercise and weight-loss program.

Reprinted from AZNetNews, Volume 30, Number 4, Aug/Sept. 2011.


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