Dueling Claims about Coffee – Does it Help or Hurt?

Black+coffeeBy Lisa Engber-Shomo

“Drinking more coffee can lead to a longer life.” “Coffee is actually terrible and people who drink it are worse.”

Those are real headlines gathered from online articles. Is it any wonder we’re confused about one of the world’s most popular drinks?

Is coffee good for you?
When you examine the positive and negative effects of coffee, the main element usually scrutinized is caffeine.

Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in the world today (meaning it alters the functions of your brain that create differences in perception, mood, consciousness or behavior). The effect can be stimulating in nature, boosting your energy and possibly your mood and memory. Caffeine can also increase physical performance. A cup before a trip to the gym can give you a boost in your workout, and trigger your body to burn fat.

Or is coffee bad for you?
On the flip side, caffeine can raise heart rates and blood pressure, can make you jittery and increase anxiety, and it can cause acid reflux and insomnia.

Properties of coffee
While caffeine is the substance that most talk about regarding coffee, there are other beneficial compounds as well. A study done in 2005 found that coffee is the No. 1 source of cancer-fighting antioxidants in the U.S. diet, which sounds good. However, antioxidant amounts will vary from person to person.

Does coffee consumption equal a healthier life?
Observational studies found that coffee may have other benefits, such as reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, liver and colon cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

But before you begin downing gallons of Italian roast, keep in mind that some studies say you only need between two and four eight-ounce cups of black coffee per day (for adults) to gain any possible health benefits.

Don’t forget that sugar, plus dairy products like half-and-half or cream, which are added to your coffee, can quickly negate its health benefits.

What it boils down to
The most important thing to know about coffee is how it affects you. Does it give you a nice pick-me-up or mood boost? Or do your hands tremble shortly after and you’re unable fall asleep until 1 a.m.? You know your limits and what you can tolerate, so heed what your body tells you.

Bottom line, if you’re chewing on antacids or your fingernails after drinking that tall, skim latte, then skip the coffee and see if a glass of cold water, a quick cat-nap, or a brisk stroll work better for an energy boost.






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Lisa Engber-Shomo