We love our coffee. We start the day with it, warm up with it and even end meals with it. Coffee is that magic tonic that adds a little pep to your step and makes getting through a class, meeting or commute a little easier.
According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), as of 2010, 54 percent of adult Americans drink coffee every day, consuming an average of three nine-ounce cups daily. Guzzling down everything from plain coffee to espressos and lattes, Americans spend about $40 billion on coffee annually.
A lot has been said about the health benefits of coffee recently with the negatives also being addressed. So what should you know about coffee? Here's the pro's and con's of coffee consumption to help you determine how much java to gulp down each day.
Coffee has been linked to various health benefits that make it worthy of a second look. Here are the main reasons to feel good about your favorite beverage:
Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants that protect the cells from free radical damage. Antioxidants also boost our immune system and protect the body from illness and infection. Never a bad thing.
Coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke and are less likely to experience abnormal heart rhythms. This can be attributed to the antioxidants within the coffee, which are known to protect the heart.
A recent study conducted by researchers from both the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital concluded that women who drank three or more cups of coffee daily had a lowered risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer. Coffee can also lower your risk for liver cancer. Coffee drinkers are also less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.
The National Cancer Institute released a study in May that showed people who consume coffee daily live longer than those who don't -- their odds increasing with every cup they drink. This finding, along with the others mentioned, continue to be the subject of research studies.
With the positives must come the negatives. There is a downside to drinking coffee daily, but there's also no reason to run from it. Here are some things to consider when it comes to your daily coffee regimen:
While this magical component of coffee is the reason so many love it -- that burst of energy we talked about before -- it's also the reason you may feel like falling asleep at your desk in the afternoon. You can get addicted to caffeine, which causes those headaches and shakes when you cut back. Caffeine is also associated with spikes in blood pressure, although studies are continuing as to whether we develop a tolerance to these effects over time. Lastly, caffeine acts as a diuretic, which can send you to the bathroom a few extra times a day.
First and foremost, coffee stains your teeth. Sipping through a straw can help but if you're a frequent coffee drinker, whitening strips, toothpastes and rinses will probably be a permanent part of your routine to keep your pearly whites white. Looks aside, adding lots if sugar to your coffee can also lead to cavities as well as erosion of the tooth's enamel, which can cause sensitivity and further dental problems.
Coffee has been shown to raise cholesterol due to two main components: kahweol and cafestol. You can use a coffee filter when making it yourself to avoid these issues. Having high cholesterol can increase your risk for developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes and increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
The acids in coffee, both regular and decaffeinated, can cause or worsen heartburn and acid reflux. If you experience either of these conditions regularly, cutting back on coffee is probably your best bet to avoid further discomfort or side effects.
Pregnant women are still advised to limit their coffee consumption, as the caffeine can lead to a baby that's born prematurely and/or at a low birth weight. If you have a diagnosed medical condition, coffee may interact with certain medications, so be sure to talk with our doctor about any possible side effects.
While the work continues to figure out how much coffee is good, bad or lifesaving, there are ways to make sure you have the healthiest cup possible. Cutting down on extras like whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sugar-filled syrups and whole milk are easy ways to bring down the calories if you can't tolerate black coffee. Remember, if it tastes like dessert, it can have the same effect on your health and waistline as that piece of chocolate cake you skipped to be good on your diet.
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