The Definitive Coffee Lowdown: Health Benefits and Concerns

It’s the question on everyone’s lips… Is coffee good or bad for you? The simple answer is both. There are many proven health benefits to be had from drinking coffee, but there’s also a number of reasons to reduce your intake or even avoid it altogether. Before getting into the fine details of the pros and cons of this popular hot beverage, it’s important to establish what we actually mean when we talk about coffee.

Real health benefits can only be had from good quality coffee: freshly ground and prepared in a coffee maker machine or via individual, manual filters and coffee presses. Poor quality coffee, instant coffee granules and the like, is bad for your health. Full of impurities and toxins that can cause sickness and headaches, overripe, ruined coffee beans can result in a toxic cup of coffee. So for the purposes of this post, healthy coffee is high quality coffee.

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Major Health Benefits

A number of studies prove that coffee helps reduce the possibility of suffering from a series of serious health conditions. Coffee is believed to reduce the possibility of prostate cancer by 20% and prevent the development of certain kinds of skin cancer too. The Harvard Medical School published findings to support the idea that regular coffee drinking decreases the risk of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by 25%.

Providing important protection for the brain, it is believed that high levels of caffeine in the bloodstream reduces the risk of both Alzheimers and dementia. You’re less likely to suffer a stroke if you consume between two and four high quality cups of coffee a day. Caffeine is also believed to significantly decrease insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Secondary Health Benefits

In addition to protecting the body against serious long term illnesses and potentially fatal conditions, coffee can help you lose weight and it can also lift your spirits.

By stimulating the central nervous system and boosting the production of serotonin, just two cups of coffee a day can do wonders for your mood and may actually decrease the risk of suicide by 50%. Coffee can also be useful to anyone trying to lose weight, as caffeine helps to break down fat cells and body fat, converting it into the fuel and energy needed for training.

Sleep Deprivation

Problems occur when we begin to overdose on caffeine. Our bodies have limits and it’s important to recognize them. As a general rule, anything more than four cups of coffee a day is too much and can cause restlessness and insomnia. Without being able to rest properly, our bodies go into overdrive and we begin to build up an abnormal tolerance to caffeine. This tolerance nullifies all the positive effects we could be benefitting from.

Pregnancy and High Cholesterol

Pregnant women and those suffering from high cholesterol are advised to avoid drinking coffee at all. Firstly, because babies are highly sensitive to caffeine and secondly, because coffee beans contain two ingredients, cafestol and kahweol, both of which appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Most of the LDL can be removed when filtering the coffee in coffee makers or via paper filters, but cafestol and kahweol are found in large quantities of strong forms of coffee, including espresso, turkish coffee, french press and what’s known as “cooked coffee” from Scandinavia.

In short, drinking quality coffee in moderation offers the average, healthy person a whole host of wonderful health benefits, but the key word is “moderation”. Overdosing on coffee can have a nulling effect on all that goodness and replace the health benefits with problems. So make your morning coffee a quality cup and limit yourself to no more than four a day.

*contributed post

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