Is Coffee Good or Bad for You?
The Western world could be said almost to be divided into two different types of people: the tea drinkers and the coffee drinkers, with most agreeing that the latter outweigh the former. It could well be the caffeine content of these drinks which makes them so popular, and whilst we may feel we are not addicted, most of us certainly like a cup of tea or coffee first thing to help us get going in the morning. Caffeine is a mild stimulant and helps to keep us alert and able to concentrate, and is not known to have any harmful effects on health, even in the considerable quantities that some people consume. You will know if you have had too much since you become more irritable or jittery and may have trouble sleeping.
The coffee bean contains numerous different chemicals and probably not all have been identified and closely studied but the body of evidence seems to indicate that the benefit of drinking coffee outweighs the disadvantages. A good deal of the health benefit can certainly be attributed to the high antioxidant content, and the results of various studies that have suggested reductions in the risk of developing diabetes type 2, Parkinson’s Disease, kidney stones and gall stones, cirrhosis of the liver, Alzheimer’s Disease, and loss of cognitive function.
Nine studies showed that, out of a total of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups of coffee daily were over 30% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than thosewho drank less than two cups a day. There was a proportionally smaller benefit of 28% lower riskfor those who drank 4-6 cups a day. The benefit here might be due to the amounts of magnesium and chromium contained in coffee which help the body use the hormone insulin and thus effectively control blood sugar levels.
With regard to cardiovascular disease there seems to be some conflicting evidence and opinion about coffee’s benefits or otherwise.
Since type 2 diabetes predisposes to heart disease and stroke the effect here of coffee is certainly beneficial. In addition, coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart rhythm disturbances (another heart attack and stroke risk factor) in men and women, and lower risk for strokes in women.
However, some possible detrimental effects of coffee in relation to cardiovascular disease have been suggested by studies that have shown a raising of cholesterol levels attributed to some chemical compounds contained in coffee, and also that there may be some disturbance of muscle tone in the walls of blood vessels.
It has been suggested that drinking a lot of coffee can have a laxative effect, causing the bowels to expel waste before all nutrients have been extracted from food, and also causing unnecessary loss of water and dehydration.
Some reports also state that gastro-intestinal irritation and/or heartburn can occur as a result of drinking coffee.Another, indirect problem of drinking a lot of coffee is down to the fact that some people add a lot of milk, sugar, and even whipped cream or chocolate sauce, adding significantly to the calorific load.
It seems as though the jury is still out regarding this question, but most health experts believe that coffee consumption in moderation does us no harm and may even convey slight benefit.