Coffee is health food: Myth or fact?

What is coffee to you?

For many of us, coffee is a blessing. And as long as you avoid its pitfalls, current science seems to be saying you can continue to enjoy it, guilt free.

If you chose fact, you’re right. New studies this week add to dozens more reporting the health benefits of coffee, including protection from type 2 diabetes,Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, prostate cancer,Alzheimer’s, computer back pain and more.
But if you chose myth, you’d also be right. There are times when coffee is bad for you, and it depends on your genetics, your age and even how you make your coffee.

Some negative outcomes.

There’s a compound called cafestol in the oily part of coffee that can increase your bad cholesterol or LDL. It’s caught in the paper filters, so as long as you use those to make your morning joe, you should be fine. But if you’re a lover of French press, Turkish coffee or the boiled coffee popular in Scandinavian countries, you could be putting your health at risk.

While the health benefits of coffee keep rolling in, the complete story isn’t so rosy. In some studies, very high consumption — six or more cups a day — reduced the benefits.

Earlier studies didn’t always factor out serious health behaviors that used to go along with coffee, such as smoking and a lack of physical activity. Today’s coffee drinker doesn’t necessarily fit that mold and researchers are more likely to screen for those behaviors in their results.

Some populations can find coffee consumption potentially harmful. People with sleep issues or uncontrolled diabetes may need to ask their doctors before adding caffeine to their diets. There’s also a concern about caffeine use among youths.
It has also been said there’s a genetic mutation many of us have that can affect how fast our bodies metabolize caffeine. The gene is called CYP1A2 — if you have the slow version, it would explain why you crawl the walls after only a cup or two or why it might contribute to your high blood pressure.
Women should take particular note. Coffee may increase menopausal hot flashes. And pregnant women might be more likely to miscarry — there is still discussion on this– but caffeine does reach the fetus and might restrict growth. Doctors recommend only a cup a day during pregnancy.

Final comments about coffee.

Most research defines a “cup” of coffee at 5 to 8 ounces, about a 100mg of caffeine, and black or maybe with a bit of cream or sugar. It is not one of those 24-ounce monsters topped with caramel and whipped cream.

“We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death.”

All in all, as happens with most things in science, proof and disproof will probably continue rolling in on the benefits and potential damages associated with coffee consumption. And as always, it is the individual who decides weather or not to continue enjoying this controversial worldwide consumed beverage.

 

 

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