Sunday, November 6, 2011

Coffee Perks

How much coffee do you drink everyday? Is coffee bad for your health? Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., a registered dietitian and associate editor of nutrition for EatingWell magazine wrote an article about 5 health reasons to not quit coffee.

1. Coffee is good for the heart. People who drinks coffee of 1 to 3 cups a day have lower rates of stroke than non coffee drinkers, an effect linked to coffee’s antioxidants. Coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in American diets for it has more antioxidants per serving than blueberries. These known antioxidants help suppress the damaging effect of inflammation on arteries. Immediately after drinking coffee, blood pressure and heart rate are elevated but over the long term, antioxidants activate nitric oxide causing the widening of vessels and eventually lower the blood pressure.

2. Coffee diverts diabetes. One of coffee’s antioxidant called chlorogenic acid and quinides play another role in boosting your cells’ sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that helps regulate blood sugar. Studies revealed that people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee each day may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Other studies have shown that caffeine can blunt the insulin-sensitivity boost, so if you do drink several cups a day, try mixing in decaf occasionally.

3. Coffee is good for the liver. According to some research, the more coffee people drink, the lower their incidence of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. One analysis of nine studies found that every 2-cup increase in daily coffee intake reduced liver cancer risk by 43 percent. Again, it’s those antioxidants—chlorogenic and caffeic acids—and caffeine that might prevent liver inflammation and inhibit cancer cells.

4. Coffee boosts brain power. Studies suggest that drinking between 1 and 5 cups a day may help reduce risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee’s antioxidants may ward off brain cell damage and help the neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function to work better.

5. Coffee can alleviate headaches. Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine which is the approximate amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee, provides relief from headaches and migraines. Though how caffeine relieves headaches isn’t clear yet, scientists do believe that caffeine boosts the activity of brain cells, causing surrounding blood vessels to constrict. According to Robert Shapiro, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neuroloy and director of the Headache Clinic at the University of Vermont Medical School, the constriction of the blood vessels helps to relieve the pressure that causes the pain.

With these five good reasons, it doesn’t mean coffee doesn’t have any pitfalls. Some people may be caffeine sensitive and may get jittery or anxious after drinking coffee. Habitual drinkers usually develop tolerance to caffeine that eliminates this problem. Coffee can also disturb sleep, especially to the elderly. Cutting some caffeine and drinking coffee earlier in the day can curb this effect. Finally, unfiltered coffee can raise LDL cholesterol, so always use a filter when preparing coffee for health reasons.

So if you like coffee and can tolerate any dose of caffeine, enjoy it….without the guilt.


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