“I like coffee ’cause it gives me the illusion that I might be awake.”
– Lewis Black
Lately, it seems coffee has become a fairly controversial subject in the health world. With some people raving about all it’s benefits, while others warning of it’s harmfulness. The main concern is that coffee contains high levels of caffeine, which is a stimulant that enhances brain function. Now, this is not harmful to health on it’s own, but the issue lies with it’s addictiveness.
It’s pretty easy to become addicted to something that’s so easily accessible, tastes good and provides an instant pick-me-up. Especially when we’re regularly running on empty. The key here, as with most things in life, is moderation. Coffee, taken daily, is not a problem. Whereas coffee taken 5 times daily, could lead to one.
Another issue is that most coffee drinkers (including myself) take sugar in their coffee, so caffeine is not the only addictive, stimulating substance being consumed. Mix a caffeine buzz with a sugar buzz, and we can really start to crash if we don’t get our fix. We can also disrupt our sleep and put our nerves into over-drive if we’ve got too much of it in our bloodstream. It always comes down to moderation, and if you can do that, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Withdrawal symptoms are similar to nicotine withdrawals, which is unpleasant to say the least. It’s much easier to just grab another cup of coffee than have to deal with days of discomfort, weaning ourselves off the stuff. However, if you know you’re not addicted, and you’re more of a morning or occasional drinker than an all-day binger, then you’re probably doing yourself more good than harm. Here’s why:
Coffee contains essential nutrients
A typical 8oz (240 ml) cup of coffee contains:
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 11% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 6% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 2% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 2% of the RDA.
- Folate: 1% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 3% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 2% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 1% of the RDA.
Coffee is a powerful antioxidant
Similar to tea, coffee is rich in antioxidants which, put simply, protect our cells from harmful free radicals and slow the ageing process. A diet rich in antioxidants has also been linked to a lower risk of developing cancer and liver diseases. Coffee has recently been confirmed to be the biggest source of antioxidants in western diets.
A yawn is a silent scream for coffee…
Coffee could prolong your life
That might seem a bit far-fetched to some, but considering it’s nutritional content and antioxidant properties, you could see how this may be possible. Authoritynutrition.com had some interesting information on the subject:
“There are several studies showing that when people drink coffee, they have a lower risk of dying from a range of serious diseases. A groundbreaking study, the largest of its kind, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012: Freedman ND, et al. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. New England Journal of Medicine, 2012.
In this study, 402,260 individuals between 50 and 71 years of age were asked about their coffee consumption. The results were fairly remarkable… after following the people for 12-13 years, those who drank the most coffee were significantly less likely to have died.”
“Even moderate consumption of coffee (1 cup per day) was associated with a 5-6% reduction in risk of death, showing that even a little bit is enough to have an effect. Although these numbers may seem small… given how incredibly widespread coffee consumption really is, this could have implications for millions of people. When they looked at particular causes of death, they found that the coffee drinkers were less likely to die from infections, injuries and accidents, respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
The benefit does not appear to be attributable to the caffeine, because both decaf and regular coffee had the same effect.”
These of course, are just some of the studies conducted on the benefits of coffee. Evaluating all the scientific evidence that’s been surfacing in recent years, you could even say that a coffee a day keeps the doctor away. Just make sure you’re not replacing the apple with the coffee. You’ve got to have balance to make it work.
Everything in moderation. Including moderation.
– Julia Child
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