How did coffee get such a bad rap? I am a coffee drinker and enjoy 1 to 2 cups a day so I wondered when many of my friends and family members insisted that coffee is bad for you. I decided to do a little research of my own.
While it might not be great for people with nervous stomachs, irritable bowel syndrome, or acid reflux, some studies have shown that coffee has quite a few health benefits including lowering the risk of many diseases by 20-25% including Parkinson’s, type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and colorectal cancer.
Coffee “beans” are actually the dried berries of the coffee plant. They are naturally very high in antioxidants but get this – you can only benefit from drinking regular coffee since the antioxidants are washed away when the beans are decaffeinated. If you are very sensitive to caffeine, like I am and still gotta have the brew, try having it in the morning and skip that after lunch or dinner cup. Pass on sodas including diet ones since they tend to have a lot of caffeine as well. If you still want the antioxidant power of coffee but can’t have any caffeine at all, opt for decaf herbal teas or eat some berries such as blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
On the other hand, if you’re not oversensitive to caffeine and drink a lot of coffee, think about how you drink it. Are you a light and sweet freak? Well it’s better to skip the cream since 2 tablespoons is about 12 grams of fat and 100 calories – WOW – while half and half at 2 tablespoons gives you about 3 grams of fat and 40 calories. Try cutting back by opting for skim milk that has 0 grams of fat and 12 calories for 2 tablespoons. There are even “enriched’ skim milks that look thicker because of added non-fat milk solids. Granulated sugar is 15 calories per teaspoon but most coffee drinkers put at least a tablespoon which is realistically 45 calories per cup.
Ok let’s get back to the good stuff. Coffee has antioxidants – pretty cool right? So how does it stack up to other antioxidant-rich foods? 1 cup of coffee has about 1,300 mg compared to 1 cup of strawberries at 5,900. It doesn’t seem high, but if you’re not a fruit fan and have a few cups of joe a day, coffee could be a viable source of antioxidants for you. To be on the healthy side, I suggest you have both!
Last but not least, does coffee really dehydrate you? Doctors and nutritionist say no – but it does work as a mild diuretic, which causes the body to lose some fluid, in the same way tea or a plain glass of water can do. Granted you shouldn’t count on coffee for sources of hydration if you are feeling thirsty or suspect you are dehydrated. The best source of hydration? Plain ole water, juicy fresh fruits, and vegetables! When you eat foods that are high in water content, the liquid stays in the body longer than even straight water. Fruit juice might sound tempting, but I steer clear since it’s absolutely loaded with sugar.
- Salmon and Coffee – for Ultimate Brain Power. Find out why on Joy’s Healthy Bite.
- Should you decaffeinate your life? Joy Bauer has the answer on the Today Show.
- Water good, coffee bad? Ain’t necessarily so. Find out why on MSNBC.
- Try my favorite coffee from Porto Rico Importing Co. They have an terrific selection of organic and bird-friendly coffees that you can order on-line.