Coffee: A "Bad" Drink That's Actually Good For You
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Coffee: A "Bad" Drink That's Actually Good For You

Drinking coffee has a wide array of health benefits!

Raise your mug to this one!  You may have grown up hearing that drinking coffee would stunt your growth, but America's favorite beverage (coffee is currently the leading source of antioxidants in the fruit-and-veggie sparse American diet!) actually has a lot of health benefits.  Coffee has a whole bunch of healthy antioxidants (nutrients that prevent tissue damage), and minerals which help the body regulate blood sugar levels.  Additionally, despite what you may have heard about the evils of caffeine in coffee, it actually has a lot of health benefits.  There's lots of evidence to suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces your risk for having the following conditions:

Type 2 Diabetes

Parkinson's Disease 

Depression

Alzheimer's Disease

Cirrhosis 

Furthermore, coffee drinkers appear to have lower incidence of certain cancers (including oral cancers), gallstones, and heart rhythm problems.  Those who  suffer from asthma or headaches may also find that coffee helps alleviate some of their symptoms (although coffee is certainly not a substitute for medicine). Coffee also improves your physical stamina, so you may help it finds you stick around the gym a bit longer than usual!  The caffeine content in coffee also improves mood, concentration, and your short-term memory abilities.  One other added bonus is that coffee is a very-low calorie drink that may also slightly speed up your metabolism.  

 Keep in mind, however, that all of these health benefits are linked to the coffee itself... not whatever sugary, high-fat syrups, creams, and toppings you or your barista are pouring into your coffee (certain large fancy coffee drinks have more than one quarter of your daily calorie requirements!).  Drink your coffee black or with a little low-fat milk (or soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk) to reap its health benefits without piling on empty calories.  

In fact, adding a splash of milk to your coffee can help negate one of coffee's few not-so-good effects; it may leach small amounts of calcium from your diet.  But as long as you're getting plenty of calcium-rich foods in your diet, such as yogurt and dark leafy greens, as well as doing weight-bearing exercises for bone strength, coffee's benefits definitely outweigh its less positive effects.  

It must also be acknowledged that coffee does stain your teeth over time.  One way to limit this less pleasant effect is to swish some plain water around in your mouth after you finish a cup of coffee.  Interestingly, although coffee stains your teeth, it may ultimately help prevent cavities! (Roasted coffee has antibacterial properties, which are protective for your teeth.)

In the past, doctors sometimes advised women who were pregnant or trying to get pregnant to avoid coffee entirely because of the caffeine.  Results are inconclusive at this point, however, and most health care professionals now suggest that drinking coffee in moderation- one to two cups per day, in addition to drinking plenty of other healthy fluids like water-- should not adversely affect fertility or pregnant women and infants.

One thing to keep in mind if you're a regular coffee drinker is that caffeine can affect your ability to maintain a normal sleep schedule, so you may want to stick to decaf or lower-caffeine (and also very healthy) green tea after dinner.

Furthermore, coffee does have slight dehydrating effects, so if you're a regular coffee drinker, first, cheers to your health, and second, make sure you also drink a healthy amount of water every day.  

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