Wake up and smell the coffee

Wake up and smell the coffee

Lately, coffee has been getting a bad rep. Almost every other health article has pretty much been saying, ‘Move over coffee, welcome tea, or better still green tea’.  This article is not going to put down green tea and its benefits, but we need to take a good look at our region’s favourite — filter kaapi.
 
A 2009 Canadian study determined that women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 20 per cent lower risk of stroke, compared to non coffee drinkers or occasional coffee drinkers. Coffee’s protective effect was more noticeable among non-smokers.  The hypothesis is that the antioxidants in coffee may offer protection by improving blood vessel function.

Good for your gallbladder
This next benefit is so pronounced that even informal studies seem to substantiate the researchers’ findings. Coffee appears to reduce the risk of both gallstones and kidney stones.  The caffeine in coffee may discourage gallstone formation by triggering gallbladder contractions and increasing the flow of bile. As for kidney stones, both regular and decaf coffee have been linked to risk reduction, perhaps simply by increasing urine output.

Great buzz
Several neurological studies have determined that coffee has the property of boosting levels of the brain chemical dopamine.  This has among its benefits, the remarkable capability of reducing susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease.  The researchers have provided concrete evidence suggesting that with an intake of one to four cups of coffee the chances of developing this disorder can be cut in half.
The next coffee benefit is something you should remember; and you will if you are a coffee drinker, according to a 2007 study, which indicates coffee may aid in keeping memory sharp. Tea drinkers enjoyed similar benefits.There seems to be an optimal level of consumption though in that a study found that among older men, the men who drank three cups of coffee a day had the least decline in their faculties.

Painkiller too!
Coffee has been proven to be an effective deterrent to pain caused by vigorous exercise. Further, women who drank coffee found, that it reduced the pain they felt after exercising.  It is believed that the caffeine in coffee helps by blocking the activity of a chemical called adenosine that activates pain receptors in cells.

If you are one of those people who consider themselves genetic time bombs, you may relax. Drinking coffee appears to lower the risk of developing type II diabetes by up to 60 per cent in a study that included people at high risk for the disease. The antioxidants, minerals and caffeine in coffee may help keep diabetes at bay by improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

If cancer is your concern, the news on the coffee front is again good. The antioxidant compounds in coffee may help prevent several types of cancer. In a Japanese study, women who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had half the risk of developing colon cancer, compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of liver cancer than coffee abstainers. Other studies have linked coffee consumption with a reduced risk of endometrial, kidney, and oral cancers.

A 2009 study found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee a day during midlife were 65 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s in their later years, compared to those who drank little or no coffee.

So can we blithely walk over to the coffee bar and order a Frappuccino? Alas, the news is not that good; while a cup of coffee at home may perk you up and do you good and the Darshini coffee may not harm you much, the creamy lattes could play havoc with your total calorie intake.  The only way to mitigate the risk is to ask for skim milk latte, even at the risk of sounding oxymoronic!

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