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Is coffee healthy?

24 November, 2014

If you are a person who loves a cup of hot coffee in the morning or a skim latte with friends in the afternoon, you’re not alone. Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world, and the second most widely used product after oil. It is estimated that each day a huge 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed, and the coffee industry is said to be worth some $100 billion.

With so many people consuming coffee on a regular basis, it must be healthy - right?

Not necessarily. As with many things, the level of consumption alters the overall healthiness. A small amount of coffee will do very little harm and in some cases can improve health, but if too much is consumed, it can have a harming effect. The best thing is to drink coffee moderately and weigh the benefits against the negatives to decide whether or not you really need it.

The benefits of coffee

  • Coffee is a powerful stimulant that can help people feel more alert and awake. This extra focus allows you to build on intelligence.
  • Concentration and coordination can be improved with just one cup of coffee.
  • Caffeine can help open the bronchial tubes, relieving symptoms of cold and flu.
  • Coffee can improve physical stamina.
  • Black coffee has a very low calorie count.
  • Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants. In fact, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. Those antioxidants are what leave coffee drinkers feeling happy.
  • Coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin, which can help protect against type 2 diabetes.
  • Coffee is linked with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s and better control of movement for those already suffering the disease.
  • The smell of coffee can reduce stress.
  • Coffee can help protect against alcoholic cirrhosis and reduces the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Coffee can act as a mild anti-depressant.
  • Coffee can reduce a woman’s chance of developing skin cancer.
  • Caffeine increases the fatty acids in the bloodstream, allowing athletes to absorb and burn fats for fuel. This leaves a reserve of carbohydrates that allow them to keep exercising.
  • Coffee can help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The negatives of coffee

  • While there are many benefits to a cup of coffee, excessive intake can lead to a range of problems. Coffee’s worst press has been surrounding the link between caffeine and heart disease, but other problems include insomnia, panic attacks, headaches, irritability, high cholesterol and depression.
  • For women contemplating pregnancy, coffee has been linked to lower fertility levels. For those already pregnant, excessive caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage.
  • Drinking coffee instead of water, milk or juice can mean missing important nutrients.
  • Adding cream, full fat milk and sugar can add to more fat and calories. Some coffee drinks contain more than 500 calories.

Calculating caffeine intake can be difficult, and it’s important to remember that caffeine is found in many other products, such as tea, cocoa, cola, energy bars, slimming tablets and over-the-counter medications. 

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