Coffee: arguably the worlds most important resource after water – it sustains us, energises us, brings us together, provides income for millions and just so happens to be very good for us.
Australia is a nation of coffee savvy punters, opting for freshly roasted, high quality coffee rather than the mass-produced, chemically preserved muck we’ve all been handed at a service station in the past.
On average, every Australian spends $594 on coffee every year (8). This is among the highest in the world; a statistic that is the increasing every year. Really, we have the Greek and Italian immigrants to thank for bringing their passion for espresso coffee (and food!) to the benefit of everyone. I think that’s the difference between Australia and other parts of the world, we already had a coffee culture before the big coffee-chains could move in and ruin it (they did try though!).
I often have patients tell me that they avoid or limit drinking coffee because they think it’s bad for them. No, no, no! Where did this myth come from anyway? Wherever it started – it is simply not true. Today we have been provided with a plethora of good quality research into the health benefits of coffee drinking.
Here are some reasons why you should be drinking between 2-4 cups of coffee a day:
Like anything, you can have too much of a good thing with coffee. The same research has shown an increased risk of some types of cancer and heart disease with those drinking more than six (6) cups of coffee per day. Another thing to keep in mind is that caffeine (found in coffee) can lead to withdrawal symptoms if you overdo it – just like a nasty hangover!
A big reason I think people avoid coffee is because of that magical ingredient – caffeine – that evil, nasty, drug-like molecule that turns us all into addicted, insomniac zombies. The reality is that caffeine is very safe in the small doses found in coffee and there are very few people who shouldn’t consume caffeine at all. The latest research shows it is even safe for pregnant women to consume one to two cups of coffee per day (9). However, if you DON’T want any caffeine, thats OK! DECAF coffee has been shown to have the same beneficial health effects as regular coffee, just make sure you get “Swiss Water Processed” beans to avoid the nasty chemicals used in some DECAF blends.
The bottom line is that (good quality) coffee contains a plethora of ingredients – including caffeine – that are proving to be beneficial to our longterm health and wellness and when consumed in moderation with a diverse diet it can be VERY good for you.
So the message I’m trying to get across today is that if you are not a coffee drinker, maybe you should be, and if you are a coffee lover like me – don’t feel guilty for ordering that second short black when you’re at your favorite cafe! Now, time for a coffee…
1. Ganio M. S. et al. (2009) Effect of Caffeine on Sport-Specific Endurance Performance: A Systematic Review. Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(1):315-24.
2. Huxley R et al. (2009) Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, and Tea Consumption in Relation to Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Arch Intern Med; 169 : 2053-63.
3. Wu J et al. (2009), Coffee consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of 21 prospective cohort studies. Int J Cardiology, 137: 216-225
4. Arab L (2010). Epidemiologic evidence on coffee and cancer. Nutr Cancer;62:271-83.
5. Barranco Quintana JL et al (2007). Alzheimer’s disease and coffee: a quantitative review. Neurol Res;29:91-5
6. Costa J et al (2010). Caffeine exposure and the risk of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. J Alzheimers Dis;20 Suppl 1:S221-38.
7. Leitzmann M.F. et al. (2002), Coffee intake is associated with lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in women. Gastroenterol, 123:1823-1830.
9. Peck J D et al. (2010), A review of the epidemiologic evidence concerning the reproductive health effects of caffeine consumption: a 2000-2009 update. Food Chem Toxicol, 48:2549-76.
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