Coffee habits

Is your coffee habit risky or not?

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Many people claim they cannot live without coffee, whether it is cold, hot, black or white. Coffee… this luring beverage that is a ‘must’ now in any American diet. But since when are we so obsessed with coffee? And is coffee good or bad for us?

There has been quite some research to the benefits and risks of coffee and the researchers have come up with some answers.
The origin of coffee is somewhat unclear. There are some legends about this black gold, one about an Ethiopian goat shepherd who saw his herd getting lots of energy after eating the red fruits of a bush. Whether or not that was the start of consumption of coffee, its popularity soon spread; first in the Middle East, from there in Europe and the New World in the 17th century.

The American colonists first favoured tea as their daily beverage but that stopped after King George III put a tax on tea. The colonists revolted against that and changed their habit to coffee. This revolt led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Thomas Jefferson described coffee once as “the favourite drink of the civilised world”, according to the National Coffee Association.

Nowadays a cup of coffee, or more than one, is a daily habit in the US; with a meal, at the office, in a coffee shop or at home. You can get coffee in every size you want and dito flavour combination, both regular and decaf. But over the years experts have always been arguing over the question whether coffee is good or bad for our health.

The search of the effects of coffee on health

The antioxidants in coffee can help protect cells from damage. Some studies show coffee has a protective role against a few cancers, as well against some chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes 2 and pain in the joints. The caffeine in coffee stimulates us and can help against fatigue by keeping us mentally alert.

But if you drink too much coffee you can get nervousness, have sleeping problems, headaches, high(er) blood pressure and more risk of heart arrhythmias. Too much coffee can even lead to bone loss, they say. Is that really so? Is coffee really a danger for all those lovers of coffee, who drink it day in day out?

Scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Health looked into this matter a bit deeper. They compared data from three still ongoing studies that involve 300,000 men and women for around 30 years in a row. The findings of their research were published in the journal called Circulation.

The scientists found that a moderate consumption of coffee actually brought a lower risk of overall mortality, and a lower risk of death from heart or neurological diseases. The protection was found in caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, so maybe something different than caffeine is playing a role here. Perhaps the antioxidants in coffee? The heavier coffee drinkers were not less in risk of death, nor did it seem to give them a higher risk of death.

The researchers concluded that “the consumption of coffee can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle”. This is great news for millions of people who “are dying” for a cup of coffee daily – metaphorical. And they now can happily live after drinking one or more cups.

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