Welcome to Cyber Monday! I decided to talk about coffee today since we can all probably use a burst of extra energy today following the long holiday weekend.
Ah… Coffee! I always knew there was something extra special about my morning cups of coffee! Can you tell that I’m excited? Well, I am, because I’m writing this article with my steaming mug of rich, dark roast coffee beside me. Some of my favorite breakfast and snack bars to have with my coffee are available from Sunburst Superfoods. They also have Coconut Palm Sugar for a sweet addition to coffee or tea.
More and more evidence is coming out that coffee is not just a popular way to start the day, but it may have some significant health benefits as well! It turns out that moderate coffee drinkers have lower risks of:
* Type 2 diabetes
* Parkinson’s disease
* Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
In the case of diabetes, at least, it turns out that decaffeinated coffee is just as protective as the caffeinated kind.
* Over 193,000 people were studied, and those who drank on average 6-7 cups of coffee each day were about 35% less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.
* Those who drank 4-6 cups a day had a 28% less risk of type 2 diabetes. Gender, age, weight – none of that mattered; the risk was still lowered.
* Australian researchers looked at an even larger group – almost half a million people – and found a 7% drop in risk of diabetes for every extra cup of coffee a day! In fact, drinking decaf coffee or black tea decreased the risk by almost the same amounts.
What about heart disease and stroke? What’s the evidence that coffee can lower those risks? In this case, there do appear to be some gender differences. In men, both the risk of a heart attack and stroke were lowered when they were coffee drinkers. For women, only the risk of stroke was lowered. Part of the reason for this difference may be the increased risk of heart attacks women have after menopause, when estrogen levels drop.
* In one large study, people who drank 1-3 cups of coffee every day were about one-fifth as likely to have arrhythmia, or abnormal heart rhythms, when compared to people who did not drink coffee.
* In the Nurse’s Health Study, the risk of stroke for coffee drinkers was about 20% lower than non-coffee drinkers. In this study, it didn’t matter if the women had high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol – the lowered risk was only associated with coffee drinkers!
For Parkinson’s disease, ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE and dementia, the key protective ingredient in coffee seems to be the caffeine.
* One study looked at almost 1500 people over a 20-year period. For those who drank 3-5 cups of coffee a day, the risk of dementia and ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE was a whopping 65% less compared to those who did not drink coffee or had fewer than just 3 cups a day.
As an added bonus, coffee seems to protect the liver against cirrhosis and liver cancer. It also appears to protect against gallstones. It even seems to increase your ability to exercise and to concentrate on various tasks.
What is it about coffee besides the caffeine that can help lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? Well, at least a part of it has to do with high levels of antioxidants that are found in coffee.
Antioxidants are substances found in foods, especially superfoods that essentially mop up something called free radicals. Free radicals are normally produced in our cells as a result of normal everyday biochemical reactions. The problem is that these free radicals are very reactive; they bind to and damage a whole array of cell components. The body has ways of dealing with free radicals, but those ways can be overwhelmed. That’s why I so often recommend taking additional antioxidants as supplements. That’s also where coffee comes in! Coffee is after all, a plant product, and plants produce some of the most potent antioxidants known to medical science. As a matter of fact, coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants for most people. Bring on the java!
We don’t know exactly how these antioxidants help prevent or reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease or how they help prevent ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE or dementia. We also don’t know exactly how these antioxidants help us minimize the signs of aging – which they do. But we DO know that they do, and we DO know that coffee is a rich source of antioxidants. And, most of us who drink coffee regularly also know that there is nothing quite like that first cup of coffee in the morning to make us feel ready to face the new day. And now we also know that there are significant health benefits to drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day! So, if you are a coffee drinker and have felt guilty about it, you don’t have to anymore. Now you know you can comfortably say, “I’ll have another cup of java, please!”
Our friends at Sunburst Superfoods offer several yummy choices for bars and other organic treats to enjoy with your coffee as well. I am particularly fond of the Cinnamon Raisin bars. Find them along with a selection of other fantastic superfoods, right here.
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