Is Coffee Good for You or what?

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in America while at the same time being a favorite around the world as well. Whether buying it while on a rushed break at work in the local Starbucks, enjoying Vienna style at a cafe in Austria or injesting a particularly strong brew served very hot along with Qat leaves as they do at cafe's in Yemen on the Arabian peninsula, coffee is simply a widespread drink. But many people are asking the question, especially in the West: Is Coffee healthy? And if so: do it's benefits outweigh it's potential health hazards. This is an important question here in America, where in the land of a million Starbucks (Well almost, anyway), we drink tons of the stuff. Actually this question is probably even more important in the small nation of Finland, which leads the entire world in per-capita coffee consumption, probably because it is so darn cold up there.

There appears to be both benefits and potential hazards associated with the hot drink. An example of a benefit, according to Nick Bakalar of the NY Times, is that in a review of studies published last year in The Journal of the AMA, it was determined that habitual coffee consumption was actually related to a lower risk of Type two diabetes.

Possible the reasons for this are that Coffee is relatively rich in the specific antioxidants which appear to moderate the cell damage which can contribute to the spread of this disease. In addition, it is a source of chlorogenic acid, which has been shown in some experiments to lower the body's glucose.

Caffeine, perhaps coffees most famous component, appears to have little to do with it; the studies found that decaffeinated coffee alone found the same results.

Larger quantities of coffee seem to be very helpful in diabetes prevention. In a report that combined statistical data from many studies, researchers found that people who drank four to six cups of the hot beverage every day had an almost 30% reduced risk as compared with those who drank 2 or less. Those who drank more than six had a whopping 35 percent risk reduction.

Some research studies have shown that cardiovascular risk also appears to lesson along with coffee injestion. Using data on more than twenty-seven thousand females between 55 to 69 in the Iowa Womens Health Study who were followed for fifteen years, Norwegian researchers found that the ones who injested 1 to 3 cups every day lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by nearly a quarter as compared with those drinking none.

But as the quantity increased, the benefit decreased. At more than six cups a day, the risk was not significantly reduced. Still, after controlling for age, smoking and alcohol consumption, women who drank one to five cups a day caffeinated or decaffeinated reduced their risk of death from all causes during the study by 15 to 19 percent compared with those who drank none.

The findings, which originally appeared in the May issue of the AJCN, point to the free radical fighting antioxidants which are present in coffee that might help to reduce inflammation and the various health problems associated with it, such as disease. Some other substances found in coffee may contribute to the overall effectiveness of the antioxidants, such as phenols, which are aroma compounds that are rather easily absorbed.

Ryan Joseph is a writer and researcher. More nutrition articles and resources can be found at

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