Coffee may taste good and get you going in the morning, but what will it do for your health?
We all have our reasons for drinking coffee. Whether coffee is the only thing worth getting out of bed for in the morning, or that it makes you a better person, or that it helps to get your bowel moving or simply the joy to be found in the rich aroma and flavor of your regular brew. There is no denying that coffee has not only become a staple in today’s society but a culture in its own right.The majority of scientific studies carried out in recent years now seem to be in agreement that coffee is not just a low-calorie feel-good beverage but that for a healthy individual; there are tremendous health benefits to be gained from moderate, regular consumption of coffee.
Things you didn’t know about coffee!
  • For millions of people around the world the best way to start the day is with a warm cup of coffee. But did you know that besides its invigorating aroma, reviving taste and distinctive flavour, your cup of coffee contains a bunch of benefits for health and well-being.
  • Here are some exciting facts you might not know about coffee:
  • Coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants! New research has shown that coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, and contributes significantly to your daily total antioxidant intake. Antioxidants can help protect your cells from oxidation and your body from heart disease, cancer and premature aging!
  • Decaf has all same antioxidants! Whether you choose a caffeinated or decaffeinated blend, you will still get all the benefits of antioxidants since both contain similar content!
  • Coffee helps you learn better and stay more alert at work! Studies show that people who drink coffee are relaxed and more interested in their work. The caffeine in coffee helps restore and maintain alertness – improving performance and enhancing your mood. It is the perfect brew to get you through the second half of the working day! When studying, coffee helps improve attention and wakefulness, increasing attentiveness and by that it facilitates learning.
  • Coffee also enhances your physical performance! According to research, caffeine plays a role in providing energy for better physical performance. This could help athletes perform better at endurance exercises of short and long durations, as well as high intensity routines. It can also reduce post-workout muscle pain and feelings of fatigue during the last minutes of work-out.
  • Zero calories in every cup! 1 cup of soluble coffee (NESCAFE®) has less than 2 calories. In fact it is what you add to the coffee that adds calories. So remember to have your cup with less sugar and low fat milk or creamer!
  • Coffee can help protect your skin! Your skin is constantly exposed to harmful external factors such as UV light, which can affect the health of your cells and cause cell damage. But with the antioxidant-rich properties of coffee, you can help your skin fight the damaging effects of the sun and prevent wrinkles as well.
  • Coffee can help ease headaches! Research suggests that a cup of coffee could help relieve migraine symptoms and even stop it if consumed at the very early stage of a headache. This is because substances that dilate blood vessels cause vascular headaches. While substances like caffeine constrict blood vessels and help counter the painful effects of blood vessel dilation in your head.
  • Coffee does not interfere with calcium absorption! A popular misconception is that drinking coffee may lead to calcium loss from the body. However, recent evidence has shown that coffee has no negative effect on bone health. And of course, strong healthy bones are a result of a diet rich in calcium. Come to think of it, preparing your coffee with a full glass of milk will actually help you meet your needs in calcium.
  • You can drink 3-4 cups a day! For most coffee drinkers, the recommendation for moderate consumption is 300 mg of caffeine per day or the equivalent of 3-4 cups of soluble coffee.
  • Soluble coffee is 100% coffee! Soluble coffee is processed using pure coffee beans and water with no additives at all! It’s the selection of beans and the distinctive roasting process that provides its special aroma.
  • Drinking coffee is a great way to get together with family and friends! Sipping up, sharing conversations, it lifts our moods, relieves stress and enhances your performance in many ways! So the next time you’re looking for something to relax or cheer you up, reach out and experience the invigorating benefits of a refreshing cup of coffee.
Here are some of the health benefits of coffee
For people with sensitive nerves and stomachs, coffee can be an irritant. But for the 87 percent of Americans who drink coffee daily at an average of 8 ounces a day, there are many benefits. Here are nine of them: Weight loss. Coffee stimulates the metabolism, so it’s hardly surprising that a study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston found that serious coffee drinkers gained less weight over 12 years than less-serious ones, all other things being equal.
Drink coffee after a meal.
For most people that would be breakfast, and it’s definitely better to wait until you have some food in your system before downing that cup of coffee.  Caffeine causes your body to release sugar into your bloodstream which in turn causes the pancreas to release insulin (another good reason to get sugar out!).  On an empty stomach this can cause a sharp drop in blood sugar which can then set up more sugar cravings. Guess what will help spike that sugar besides sugar?  Caffeine. Furthermore, the caffeine in coffee can suppress your appetite causing you to go longer without feeling hungry.  This sets up further episodes of low blood sugar and further coffee and sugar cravings.  Having food in your stomach will help modulate this blood sugar response and keep those cravings at bay.
 Enjoy the heck out of it
Yeah, that’s right.  We live in a world where we’re made to feel guilty about food:  don’t eat this, don’t eat that, this food will kill you, that food will kill you.  Of course, a lot of that is true, but you can take any food, create negative thoughts around it and actually make it unhealthier to consume with those stressful thoughts.  After all, stress depletes nutrients from the body, too.  So don’t feel guilty it, your one cup per day of organic, ground-at-home-with-cream-coffee.   Enjoy it!  I do every day.
  • Stronger workouts. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology discovered that the muscles of cyclists who downed a caffeinated carbohydrate drink after a workout had 66 percent more glycogen. This store of energy let them do much more exercise during their next exercise session.
  • Refreshment following sleep. Since caffeine takes a half-hour to kick in, drinking coffee just before a 20- to 30-minute catnap can provide a big boost. This is from research by the Sleep Research Centre, Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England.
  • Any coffee drinker will tell you that the first benefit of coffee you will notice is increased alertness due to the stimulant effect of caffeine on the brain. It also increases attention span and memory performance, an effect exploited by college students everywhere. Alertness also plays an important role in preventing accidents and injury, especially for drivers and people who operate heavy machinery.
  • Another health benefit of coffee is it seems to have a preventative effect against type II diabetes. Observation studies have shown the risk to be reduced by 23-67%. A review carried out of 18 studies showed a decreased risk of 7% for every additional cup of coffee drank throughout the day.
  • Coffee, particularly roasted coffee, is rich in antioxidants which inhibit the damaging effect of free radicals on the body’s cells. Free radicals have been a contributing factor in the development of many cancers.
  • Yet another health benefit of coffee is that it reduces the risk of liver disorders, such as liver cirrhosis (by as much as 80% according to a recent study), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and even liver cancer (by as much as 40%).
  • Moderate caffeine consumption has also been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease through improved vascular function, with people who drink more than four cups in a day seeming to derive the biggest health benefit according to a meta-analysis carried out in 2012.
  • A 10 year study carried out in 1996 in the US suggested that women who drank coffee were less likely to suffer from depression than women who did not drink coffee. In 2004 a review was published which associated coffee consumption with reduced rates of suicide. This is because caffeine blocks adenosine reception in the brain making us feel alert. A  domino-effect type of reaction then  causes adrenaline to be injected into the system giving us a boost. Caffeine also manipulates the levels of dopamine produced in the brain making us feel good.
  • Another effect of moderate caffeine consumption is an increase in physical performance and muscular recovery, which is great news if you are planning to run the local charity marathon.
  • Studies have shown that habitual drinking of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of  Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and gout.
  • Saved the best for last because as health benefits of coffee go, this one is definitely up there.  A study carried out in 2012 by the National Institutes of Health showed that people who regularly drink coffee, of any kind, tend to live longer than people who do not! This effect seemed to be magnified in people suffering from type II diabetes.
  • Good news for decaff fans! Decaffeinated coffee seems to show similar preventative effects against type II diabetes and prostate cancer as regular coffee. This suggests that the health benefits of coffee are not entirely because of the caffeine it contains.
  • Illness prevention. Coffee’s antioxidants are the probable reason for experimental findings that the drink lowers the risk for liver cancer and heart disease. Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden, found that two cups of coffee a day reduced people’s liver cancer risk by 43 percent. Other scientists at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis found that women coffee drinkers lowered their heart disease risk by 24 percent.
  • Relief from muscle cramps. A study at the University of Georgia in Athens showed that women who took the caffeine of two cups of coffee had 48 percent less leg pain within an hour after having their leg muscle stimulated.
  • Relief from aerobics’ pain. A study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign revealed that women who took two cups of coffee worth of caffeine one hour before cycling experienced 40 percent less pain than those who took none.
  • Easier negotiating. When talking about a difficult topic, doing it over a cup of coffee can promote a good outcome, a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology found. This may be because it improves cognitive function, allowing people to be more open to a good argument.
  • Breast cancer prevention. Research in the Journal of Nutrition discovered that young women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had 40 percent less breast cancer risk than non-drinkers. Even two daily cups of coffee provided a benefit.
  • Better recall. Researchers at the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria found that caffeine improves short-term memory. So drinking a cup before an important meeting could provide just the right edge.
 Choose organic
Conventional coffee is heavily sprayed with pesticides.  There’s a plethora of organic choices out there.  At the very least, do this.  Better yet, support companies that promote fair trade practices.  You can usually find a few of these in your local health food store.  If not, here’s a few I recommend:
Equal Exchange
Dean’s Beans
Indigo Coffee Roasters
And finally, stay away from the flavored coffees (yeah, I know they’re yummy) which are usually full of artificial flavorings.
Note: The above links are amazon affiliate links. The cost is the same for you but Fearless Eating does receive a small commission to help cover the costs of this site.  I appreciate your support! Full disclosure here.
Get the sugar out!
OK, this I realize is a tough one for a lot of people.  It was for me.  Until I did this I never realized that what I was really craving in my coffee was the sugar more than the caffeine.   And once I ditched the sugar, my palette became more attuned to the various types of roasts and regional variations.  I actually started enjoying the taste of coffee instead of the taste of sugar.  Try adding just cream (preferably raw if you can get it) in place of sugar.  That helped me get the sugar out once and for all.  The fat in cream will cut the bitterness of coffee.   Cream also has a natural sweetness that can help you wean off the refined white stuff.   Lastly, please do NOT use those flavored cream/creamer concoctions!  They’re made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, corn syrup and a whole host of other chemicals.  Now some of you might be saying, “Cream?!  What about low fat milk?  Isn’t that healthier?”  No.  As Bill Cosby once said, “Show me the cow who makes skim milk and then I’ll drink it”.  Low fat milk and all manner of low fat products are not health foods.  But that’s another blog topic for another blog day.
Buy whole beans and grind them at home.
Coffee beans, like anything, will begin to breakdown and become rancid once the inner contents are exposed to oxygen and moisture.   To see this process with the naked eye cut open an apple and see what happens. The white flesh starts turning brown pretty fast.   This is due to its exposure to oxygen and moisture, the enemies of freshness.   They’re also the enemies of anti-oxidants, those things you hear about that create stability and health in living systems and ward off disease.  I’m skeptical about the anti-oxidant health benefits you hear about in coffee.  But if it’s true, those anti-oxidants will start to oxidize immediately after grinding, which is OK if you drink the coffee soon after.  After a few days however freshly ground coffee doesn’t taste so fresh anymore.   And if you get the sugar out, you can start to taste this pretty easily.
I use a simple Krup’s coffee grinder  to grind my beans at home.  It’s probably the most used appliance in my kitchen.
Keep it to ONE cup per day.
For starters, one cup is not a Starbucks twenty plus ounce mega -grande french vanilla frappuccino with whip cream and chocolate syrup.  Nor does it resemble a giant caramel coffee coolatta from Dunkin Donuts.  It’s eight ounces.  Your liver can handle that.  I know more than a few people who drink coffee all day long – five, ten, fifteen cups.   If you’re one of those, don’t even think about cutting down to one cup right away.  Reduce it slowly.  If you’re drinking ten cups, get it down to eight in a week.  Then get it down to five, and so on and so forth.  Other strategies for reducing the caffeine content include a second brewing from the same beans and including half decaf (Swiss mater method only) in each cup.
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