Most people start out their mornings with a cup of coffee to help them wake up and prepare for the day and it now seems as if people have another reason to make sure they start their days with this tasty hot beverage; the nutrients within it that impart the health benefits of coffee.
The Legend of Coffee
Legend has it that goats discovered the wonders of coffee in the Arabian peninsula. Kaldi, the goats’ shepherd, found them joyously dancing around after having ingested coffee beans, so he decided to try them himself. Then Kaldi discovered what most people in America know about coffee; it helped to wake him up. From then on, the monks in the area began to take advantage of its effects for keeping them awake during their extended prayer sessions. It worked so well that the monks began to offer it around to all of the other monasteries.
That’s an interesting story about the goats discovering coffee, but the truth is a bit more mundane. Coffee actually was believed to have been discovered in Ethiopia. Someone took it to Yemen where the people began to grow coffee extensively in the 6th century. Then the coffeehouse first made its way into the world in Cairo, Egypt and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Now they are everywhere, practically on every street corner.
Two Main Coffee Species
The two main coffee species being grown currently are called Arabica coffee and Robusta coffee. The more popular coffee type is the Arabica, and it gives a better flavor than the Robusta. The Robusta has higher caffeine content, but its flavor isn’t as well-liked.
Health Benefits of Coffee
As people research coffee and the differences between those who drink it and those who don’t, they discover very interesting facts about the good things coffee can do for the body. For example, those who drink coffee have fewer instances of the following diseases:
- Type II Diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Some cancers
- Heart Disease
Type II Diabetes
In order to help prevent Type II Diabetes, people will need to drink at least six to seven cups of coffee per day. This amount of coffee each day lowers a person’s risk of Type II Diabetes by 35 percent. Because patients diagnosed with Type II Diabetes also have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, coffee is also given the credit for decreasing the amount of heart disease and strokes that people experience.
A further effect of coffee is that it reduces the instances of disturbances in heart rhythm. These disturbances have been found to increase both men’s and women’s rate of heart attacks and strokes. Because coffee lowers the number of people who have disturbances of their heart rhythms, it also indirectly decreases the numbers of heart attacks and strokes that all people endure.
Parkinson ‘s Disease and Dementia
Coffee drinkers have a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are confident of the link between Parkinson’s disease and the caffeine that coffee contains, although they cannot explain what the effect caffeine has on preventing Parkinson’s disease. It also benefits dementia; drinking between three and five cups of coffee per day was found in one study to reduce dementia by 65 percent.
Coffee and Liver Cancer
Researchers can’t state definitively how, but coffee appears to decrease the instances of liver cancer. With every test researchers have done on this issue, they have arrived at the same results; liver cancer is less likely in people who are regular coffee
Nutrients in Coffee
Coffee is full of antioxidants that are believed to be the reason that the number of people who contract Type II Diabetes can be kept lower. These nutrients, oxygen-free radicals, keep the cells from being damaged. Coffee also contains minerals that are highly important in the body’s process of regulating insulin. Magnesium and chromium aid in the body’s use of insulin in controlling the amount of sugar that runs through the blood. People with Type II Diabetes lose the ability to control their blood sugar on their own, so the help that magnesium and chromium provide is very useful.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
The body needs omega-6 fatty acids and it’s not capable of producing them itself. Coffee is a great source of omega-6 fatty acids containing 27.6 milligrams in each fluid ounce. Omega-6 fatty acids, also called polyunsaturated fats, are essential for maintaining brain function, promoting growth, encouraging the growth of healthy skin, bone growth, keeping the body’s metabolism in its healthiest state and keeping the body’s reproductive system in good shape.
Coffee has a large amount of caffeine, 0.3 milligrams per fluid ounce, and it may be the cause of some people’s allergies. Those who develop an allergic reaction to caffeine may experience hives, skin rashes that can be extremely itchy. This condition can spread all over the body and create a condition called anaphylaxis where the sufferer can no longer breathe and loses consciousness. It’s a condition that needs to be treated with immediate medical attention.
Who Shouldn’t Drink Coffee?
It’s a concern for doctors that pregnant women who drink large amounts of coffee might have a higher risk of miscarrying. They generally advise their patients to drink around 12 ounces of coffee per day; this number means that less than 200 milligrams of coffee is being ingested which is the amount that is considered to be the safest for women who are expecting. The less than 200 milligram number appears to be safe because research has shown that there isn’t an increased incidence of miscarrying or promoting a premature birth; it also doesn’t seem to affect the growth of the fetus in any way.
Coffee, rather the caffeine in coffee, may present people who have urinary issues with a reason to limit their consumption. The caffeine is known as a property that will increase a person’s need to urinate more often. The answer isn’t going to be to drink decaffeinated coffee because it has been found that decaffeinated coffee has the same diuretic effects as regular coffee.
Another group of people who might want to decrease the amount of coffee they drink, both regular as well as decaffeinated, are people who experience heartburn. Acids that can worsen heartburn’s symptoms are present in both types of coffee, so it can make a heartburn sufferer even more uncomfortable. If heartburn is worse in the morning and the person didn’t know what was causing it, it just might be the coffee.
Like with anything, coffee has its good side and its bad side but when taken in moderation, the health benefits of coffee outweigh the bad.
Jeff Andrews writes about the many common foods that are beneficial to your health.