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Articles  |  Nutrition  |   Coffee: Good or Bad?

Coffee: Good or Bad?

Coffee is one of the most often consumed beverages but is it really as bad as people say it is?  In fact, coffee has several health benefits.  Read on to learn more.

Is Coffee Acidic?

Coffee is an acidic beverage.  Acidity is determined by the effect that the food has on urine pH. As coffee increases the acidity of urine after it has been drank, it is classified as an acidic food.  The pH of coffee actually hovers around 5.0 to 5.1 which is more neutral than beer and fruit juice, and similar to carbonated water.  It is interesting to note that darker roasted coffees are less acidic both in their flavour profile and in their actual acid content.

Coffee and Antioxidants

It is interesting to note that coffee is actually a major source of antioxidants in the diet.  Antioxidants are substances that prevent or slow oxidative damage to the body.  Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appears to provide similar amounts of antioxidants.  Coffee contains chlorogenic acids and melanoids, which trap free radicals and are powerful antioxidants.  It also contains phenols, volatile aroma compounds, and oxazoles, which are efficiently absorbed by the body.

It is not that coffee has a higher concentration of antioxidants; it’s that coffee drinkers consume more coffee than any other source of antioxidants.  In fact, in the American diet, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants.  Coffee is actually more efficient than fruit and vegetables in preventing the oxidation of DNA, the source of a number of serious illnesses, including cancers.

Benefits of Coffee

Recent research has shown that coffee can be a highly beneficial drink.  As well as its value for antioxidants, there is evidence that coffee can reduce the risk of several serious ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, and cirrhosis of the liver. 

Coffee & Diabetes

Recent research has showed that habitual coffee consumption may lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. A recent Harvard University study, which monitored 100,000 people over 18 months, found that men who drink more than six cups of coffee a day reduced their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by more than 50%, compared to non-drinkers. The exact reason for this reduction is not known but the antioxidants in coffee can help to control the cell damage that can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.  The chlorogenic acid in coffee has also been shown to reduce glucose concentrations.  The caffeine appears to play no part as decaffeinated coffee also appears to do the same thing.

Coffee & Cardiovascular Disease

Some studies have shown that drinking coffee also has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system.  In fact, one study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking one to three cups of coffee per day can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent compared to those that do not drink coffee at all.  However, as the quantity of coffee consumed increases, the benefit decreases. 

A study by the American Heart Association found that regular coffee drinking among women reduces their risk of stroke. Interestingly, there was a 20% reduced risk in women drinking four or more cups of coffee a day. However, the study also found that the regular coffee drinkers tended to smoke more than the women who drank less coffee.

It is suggested that people that have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease drink no more than three cups of coffee per day.

Coffee & Parkinson's Disease

Coffee can also protect you against liver and colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease, according to some studies. Researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal found that drinking two to three cups of coffee each day can lessen the risk of developing Parkinson's Disease by around 25%.

Side Effects of Coffee

The side effects of coffee are well known and include causing stomach pains, and making you feel jittery.  Some studies have also linked coffee with higher blood pressure and heart rates.  Coffee may also contain some potentially carcinogenic substances.

As with all foods, the key is to consume coffee in moderation.

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Topic: Nutrition

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