Friday, September 8, 2006
As an avid coffee drinker, and a one time barista for Coffee Express in Maine and a Starbucks in Yakima, I often heard how unhealthy coffee was to drink.
It was like my customers felt guilty that they were knowingly consuming something that would have a negative effect on them. A few customers would come by two or three times a day, and by the third visit, they practically donned big sunglasses and a trench coat.
Of the many things a barista needs to know at Starbucks, the health benefits of coffee is not one of them. So, I set about finding out for myself if coffee really was all that bad for the human body.
What I found was quite contrary to that belief. Coffee, in moderation, actually has health benefits. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium.
According to the WebMD website, a study about coffee recently made headlines for possibly cutting the risk of the latest disease epidemic, type 2 diabetes.
Research shows that after analyzing data on 126,000 people for as long as 18 years, Harvard researchers calculated that compared with people who did not partake in a cup, downing one to three cups of caffeinated coffee daily can reduce diabetes risk by single digits. Having six or more cups a day slashed men's risk by 54 percent and women's by 30 percent over coffee avoiders.
At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's. Drugs for Parkinson's disease are being developed that contain a derivative of caffeine, based on the evidence that regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of the disease.
There is evidence that coffee may help manage asthma and even control attacks when medication is unavailable and stop and prevent headaches.
Italian researchers credit the compound trigonelline, which gives coffee its aroma and bitter taste, for having both antibacterial and anti-adhesive properties that help prevent dental cavities from forming.
The Forbes.com website says that coffee consumption is also being linked to the lowered occurrence of certain cancers and chronic diseases. There are even studies that link coffee to increased endurance during physical workouts.
The website goes on to say that 80 percent of Americans drink coffee, and more than half of the population drinks it every day.
These benefits don't just apply to black coffee. Whether it is served as a black shot of espresso, diluted with milk and sugar, or in a venti, triple-shot, breve Caramel Macchiato, there are health benefits to be had.
The websites do warn people against consuming too much coffee, as an excess of anything will have a negative effect on the body.
An eight ounce cup of brewed coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine, which is three and a half times more than the same serving of tea, cola or one ounce of chocolate.
Armed with all of this new information, I can continue to get my daily buzz, guilt free.