Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Health Benefits of Coffee

I love coffee. I really can't start my day with out it. A couple of my friends have tried to remove caffeine from their diet, but I remain unconvinced. According to EcoSalon, scientists find numerous health benefits of coffee. Here are just some of them:

Caffeine reduces risk of skin cancer. This prevention method is topical- lotions containing caffeine (both from coffee and green tea) have been shown to prevent the occurrence of cancerous tumors on the skin.

It increases your sense of well-being and happiness. You can thank dopamine for that, which also contributes to coffee’s addictive nature. But be aware, the study also noted that drinking more than 2 cups daily increases the risk of anxiety and panic attacks. Some people respond more readily than others – if you find yourself feeling jittery or nervous, ease up on the joe.

Caffeine may reduce chance of Parkinson’s Disease. A 30-year study has shown that non-coffee drinkers have a higher chance of developing Parkinson’s Disease than their coffee-drinking counterparts.

Coffee reduces muscle pain. After a hard workout, a cup or two of coffee has been shown to reduce muscle soreness (in women, anyway) more effectively than naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen.

Coffee may reduce chance of death from heart disease. Studies show that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee a day can make you less likely to die from heart disease. The researchers think it may have something to do with coffee’s anti-inflammatory effects.

Coffee may help with short term memory. It’s probably because of caffeine’s stimulant effects, but an Austrian study showed that volunteers given caffeinated coffee had better reaction times and short-term memory function than those who were given the cup of decaf.

Most Americans get their antioxidants from coffee. That doesn’t mean it’s the best source of antioxidants, just that it’s the most consumed. But, it’s true, coffee is very high in antioxidants.

Coffee may cut colon cancer in women. A 12-year study on Japanese women found that drinking 3 or more cups of coffee per day may actually halve the risk of developing colon cancer. They found no beneficial effect from green tea on the colon – in this case, it was strictly a coffee thing.

For women, caffeine may prevent long term memory loss. Because caffeine is a psychostimulant, older women who drink 3 or more cups of coffee or tea a day have less memory loss and cognitive decline than their counterparts who drink less or none. Unfortunately, caffeine consumption doesn’t seem to have any preventative effect against dementia.

Caffeine won’t cause hypertension. Some of the studies can be contradictory and confusing. What we do know is that for non-habitual coffee drinkers, those first few cups will cause a temporary rise in blood pressure, but for regular drinkers, a tolerance develops and won’t cause any long term, permanent increase.

The FDA has approved caffeine for babies. This doesn’t mean you can wake up your sleepy infant with a bottle of latte. Caffeine injections have been used medicinally since 1999 in the United States to stimulate breathing in infants who are experiencing apnea. It’s still recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women keep their caffeine intake to a minimum, but a modest amount is safe.

Coffee can fight cavities. Just avoid all the sugar and milk! Actually, roasted coffee has some antibacterial properties, particularly against Streptococcus mutans, one of the major causes of cavities. By the way, these properties have nothing to do with caffeine, so decaf drinkers will get the same protection.

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