For years, doctors told us that coffee wasn’t good for us and tried to get us to quit or switch to decaf.
However, recent research tells us to fill up our cups! Like most medicinal plants, coffee is chemically complex, including a group of powerful polyphenols, and has multiple benefits. A large 13-year study linked drinking two to three cups of coffee a day with a 10 percent decreased risk of death. (Note that one cup measures 8 ounces — a smaller amount than fills most mugs.)
And, check out these benefits of the hot stuff:
1. Coffee protects the nervous system. In addition to keeping us alert, regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of stroke, depression, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. When people with mild cognitive impairment (loss of memory and other mental functions less severe than outright dementia) drank three to five (8-ounce) cups a day, they reduced their risk of progressing to actual dementia.
2. Coffee helps shield the system against cardiovascular disease. Regular coffee consumption lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and may help overweight people shed pounds. Being overweight and having diabetes elevates cardiovascular disease risk. Just be sure to steer clear of unfiltered coffee, which can raise cholesterol.
3. Coffee reduces the risk for some cancers, including colon, prostate, uterine, skin (basal cell carcinoma), and head and neck cancer.
4. Coffee also benefits the liver and reduces the risk of gallstones.
5. Because caffeine relaxes the smooth muscle encircling the airways, it was a traditional remedy for asthma. And its effects on muscle can enhance strength and endurance.
But, anyone who suffers from migraines should drink coffee cautiously. Research published in the Journal of Headache Pain says that caffeine may be associated with developing and sustaining these debilitating headaches. Cutting out caffeine also may help migraine medications work more effectively.
For the rest of you: fire up the coffeemaker! And follow these tips:
- Enjoy your coffee in the early half of the day
- Keep intake moderate.
- Watch for side effects of overdoing it — and cut back if they occur: jitteriness, restlessness, anxiety, hand tremors, insomnia, and increased blood pressure.
- Eliminate as much caffeine from your system as possible by bedtime. It takes three to seven hours for your body to eliminate half of the caffeine circulating in your blood— double that time in women who are pregnant or on oral hormonal contraceptives.
In a saucepan combine 1 cup freshly brewed coffee with ¼ cup almond or other nondairy milk, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract. Warm until hot, but do not boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons honey until dissolved, then stir in ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Enjoy!