Coffee: Is It Really Good For You?
There is speculation whether coffee is good for you or bad for you. Some studies have claimed that 8 cups of coffee a day are fantastic for you, while others suggest that any more than 4 is linked with higher death rates. Below, we analyze both sides and determine both the risks and benefits of coffee.
Coffee is a small tree or shrub mostly found in tropical regions such as southern Africa and tropical Asia. Its scientific species is Coffea, a member of the Rubiaceae family, also known as a family of flowering plants such as coffee, bedstraw, and madder. The two most common types of coffee are Coffea arabica and Coffea canephora.
Here's an interesting tidbit for those of us who are convinced that the caffeine in tea just isn't quite the same as it is in coffee: in 2014, a study was published stating coffee gets its caffeine differently than tea and cacao chocolate on a molecular level.
I'll Have Decaf
Decaf coffee is certainly a concern among some of the natural health community. Decaf coffee is commonly produced by removing the caffeine from regular coffee via chemical
processing. If we're trying to eat more organic foods and remove toxins from our everyday lives, it only makes sense to ditch the decaf. After all, it's one of the easiest things we could change in our daily lives.
Unfortunately, the reason most people choose decaf is to avoid the caffeine and still have the delicious taste of coffee, even though chemical processing changes the taste of the beans. Caffeine can have some serious effects if you are sensitive to it or drink it on an empty stomach.
In 2008, a new species of coffee was discovered in Cameroon called Coffea charrieriana, or Charrier Coffee. This species of coffee was huge news in the coffee-loving world, as it is naturally caffeine free. Unfortunately again, this type of gourmet coffee doesn't seem to be in development for commercial growing. To some sources, this type of coffee is considered endangered as it's only found in Madagascar.
Here's a fun fact: most of the world's additive caffeine, such as the caffeine found in products like soda and candies, come from leftover caffeine during the decaffeinating process. Not only that but the chemical processing that decaffeinated coffee requires cannot completely extract the caffeine, so while it's minimal, even decaf has up to 8 mg of caffeine per cup.
Risks of Caffeine
Caffeine can be a major risk to those who are sensitive to it, taking certain medications, or are at risk of or have certain medical conditions. Regular caffeine and coffee consumption has been shown to increase certain cardiovascular risk factors, from plasma homocysteine to high blood pressure.
Caffeine does thin your blood slightly, so it is not recommended to drink caffeine if you are on blood thinner medication.
Though some sources may tout it, there is very little evidence that caffeine or coffee increase your risk of developing cancer. Some side effects of caffeine may include upset stomach, increased heart rate and breathing, nausea and anxiety. These side effects could be worsened by drinking caffeine on an empty stomach.
The Benefits of a Daily Cup
A daily cup of coffee has been shown in some studies to be beneficial by reducing your risk for Parkinson's disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Coffee is full of antioxidants which are great for your health. Coffee has been shown to improve cognitive performance, from memory to reaction times and even make you feel happier during the day.
On top of improving cognitive performance, coffee has a potential to help reduce your risk for Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia by nearly 65% alongside healthy eating, sleeping and lifestyle habits.
By drinking a small cup each morning, your risk of heart disease and heart attack lowers significantly, though the risk of high blood pressure may increase in sensitive individuals. Some studies have even shown that drinking a cup of coffee increases your metabolic rate by 7% ~ 11% for most of the day. This means that by drinking a cup with a sufficient breakfast right before your morning workout will help your body lose excess fats and slim down.
It doesn't stop there: coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of liver disease. Individuals who consume anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of coffee a day have up to an 80% risk reduction for cirrhosis, a condition that occurs when the liver has developed a large amount of scar tissue.
Coffee also has several essential nutrients in the mix – it's not just caffeinated water with taste. Coffee contains Vitamin B2, B5, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. Now, these amounts are 11% and below per cup, but if you drink more than one cup per day, these quickly add up.
If you want to feel a little bit happier during the day and increase your productivity, a cup of coffee can be great for you. If you are sensitive to the caffeine, consider trying a low-caffeine type or even decaf coffee. Decaf has shown to still have up to 8 mg of caffeine per cup which would still allow you to reap the benefits. As long as you are not sensitive or have any medications of medical conditions that interact with caffeine, coffee truly is good for you. Of course, provided that your coffee contains no additive sugars, creamers or flavors, you can see real benefits from 1-3 small cups per day.