If you drink coffee you may not feel some sort of vindication. More studies are being conducted on the health effects of this staple of the American breakfast diet. So, take a sip and keep reading.
Why do people drink coffee in the first place? Caffeine is a major stimulant. It dilates the blood vessels, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow. For sleepyheads, it’s better than smelling salts to get you up and alert in the morning.
But, coffee contains more than just caffeine. After all, many nutritionists recommend reducing the amount of caffeine we consume each day. There are also antioxidants found inside those luscious little coffee beans.
Aren’t familiar with the particulars of antioxidants? They are substances that neutralize the effects of oxidative stress on the body. Free radicals are produced as a byproduct of cellular metabolism. The free radicals damage body systems by stealing an electron from cells, leaving them unstable.
The process of aging occurs in part due to free radical damage in the body. Antioxidants cling to the free radicals, preventing them from doing major damage. Some conditions aided by free radical damage: cataracts, heart disease, diabetes, wrinkling of the skin, and etc.
Antioxidants are found in the coffee bean itself. They are most potent when coffee is freshly brewed. Scientists aren’t sure how many of these antioxidants are released from the bean into the coffee and thus into your bloodstream, but they are present. Research is showing promising links between coffee drinking and Type 2 Diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
Coffee and the big three
Let’s talk about diabetes for a moment. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the inability of the body to use insulin effectively. Coffee contains magnesium and chromium – minerals that help the body with insulin utilization. Studies have shown that those who drink coffee had a lower incidence of developing Type 2 diabetes. This fact is independent of whether the participants drank decaf or regular coffee.
Those who develop Type 2 diabetes have a greater incidence of other conditions as well. Namely, they are at risk for heart disease and stroke. Studies show that there is a promising link between coffee and these two conditions as well.
Heart disease is a major killer of men and women. Diet and exercise lower your risk, but what about that morning cup of coffee? A study of health care workers showed that those who reported drinking anywhere from one to three cups of coffee a day had a lower incidence of problems with heart arrhythmias.
As for stroke, the work here too is optimistic. For women, those who drank coffee daily showed a lower risk of stroke. And, this was regardless of other health indicators like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
More study needs to be done, to provide more than a tenuous connection between coffee drinking and improved health. For now, if you drink it, enjoy that cup, to your health…and here’s a great article on making the best coffee from home.