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Coffee: Healthy or Unhealthy?

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Coffee is the drink that fuels America.

From college students to Fortune 100 CEOs, from busy moms to boardroom executives, millions of us can’t start the day (or get all the way through it) without a cup or three of coffee.

According to a 2014 Zagat survey, 87% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee per day — with the daily average being two and a half cups. (1)

But is all that coffee a risk to your health?

Coffee: Healthy or Unhealthy?

coffee_good_or_bad

The rich, inviting aroma. The warmth of a hot mug in your hands. The jolt of energy and clarity it gives you — coffee is a treat for the senses.

A growing body of research now suggests coffee may be food for your health, too.

Every five years America’s top nutritionists form the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to release dietary recommendations for American citizens.

Most of their advice sounds like the kind of stuff your mother said to you when you were a kid:

“Don’t eat too much sugar”.

“Take it easy on the salt”.

“Eat more fresh fruits and veggies”.

This year, however, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee did something they’d never done before in its 40+ year history:

They offered an opinion on whether or not people should be drinking coffee — and what they had to say caught a lot of people by surprise:

Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day) is not associated with long-term health risks among healthy individuals. In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adults.” (2)

Great news for coffee lovers concerned about their health!

Here are even MORE healthy reasons to indulge your java habit…

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Humans have been drinking coffee for at least 500 years. Here in America, coffee is a $30 billion per year industry! Clearly, coffee isn’t going anywhere.

Good thing, too, as coffee delivers a host of powerful health benefits.

1. Coffee Can Help You Lose Weight

Coffee is one of the best weight loss supplements in the world. That’s because the caffeine that naturally occurs in coffee has been proven to burn fat.

One study found that caffeine at commonly consumed doses can boost metabolism by 3% — 11%. (3)

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that caffeine can increase the body’s ability to burn fat by as much as 10% in obese people and 29% in individuals closer to their ideal body weight. (4)

2. Coffee May Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, just behind Alzheimer’s. Sadly, just like Alzheimer’s, there is currently no known cure, which makes a focus on prevention even more important.

Studies have shown that coffee drinkers are as much as 60% less likely to develop Parkinson’s than non-coffee drinkers. (5)

3. Coffee Is Nutritious

awesome_coffee

Americans get more disease-fighting antioxidants from coffee than from any other source — nothing else even comes close. (6)

A single 8-ounce cup of coffee also contains important vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B2: (11% RDA)
  • Vitamin B5: (6% RDA)
  • Potassium: (3% RDA)
  • Magnesium: (2% RDA)

On their own these numbers may not wow you, but remember that most folks drink more than one cup per day.

If you’re drinking the average 2 to 3 cups, these numbers quickly add up. (7)

4. Coffee Can Help You Live Longer

old_age_coffee

We all know that coffee helps us feel alive early in the morning, but can it actually help us live LONGER? Maybe.

A study of more than 127,000 men and women uncovered an intriguing link between coffee consumption and mortality:

Men who drank coffee regularly had a 20% lower risk of death than their non-coffee-drinking peers; whereas women who think it’s hip to sip had a 26% lower risk of death. (8)

A lot of us wouldn’t want to live without our daily coffee fix. Nice to know coffee could be helping us live longer, too.

5. Drinking Coffee Is Good For Your Liver

liver_health

Your liver is the hardest working organ in your body. It performs more than 500 vital functions necessary for life.

Environmental toxins, poor dietary choices, and invisible poisons in the air you breathe, water you drink, even the clothes and makeup you wear, can overwhelm the liver and greatly increase your risk of fatty liver disease and cirrhosis — a potentially fatal condition in which large portions of the liver have been replaced with scar tissue.

Studies have shown that coffee may protect your liver against cirrhosis – in a major way. People who drink four or more cups a day have an 80% lower risk of developing the condition. (9)

6. Coffee Has Brain Health Benefits

brain_health_liver

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are crippling conditions that are sadly on the rise in America and around the world.

Today, 5.4 million people Americans are living with Alzheimer’s — and that number is increasing daily as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Taking good care of your brain is essential to enjoying a long, healthy life.

Experts at the University of South Florida and University of Miami conducted studies that found the caffeine in coffee can slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at USF and co-author of the study, said this: “We’re not suggesting that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s. However, we firmly believe that that moderate coffee can appreciably reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.” (10)

Never Do THIS With Your Cuppa Joe…

All the health benefits we’ve looked at in this article concern coffee — black coffee.

We’re not talking about the calorie-heavy, sugar-soaked coffee drinks you’ll find at:

  • McDonald’s (large mocha = 500 calories, 17 grams of fat, 72 grams of carbs)
  • Starbucks (Venti White Chocolate Mocha = 580 calories, 22 grams of fat, 79 grams of carbs)
  • Dunkin Donuts (large frozen caramel coffee Coolatta = 670 calories, 8 grams of fat, 144 grams of carbs)

Any of those drinks will erase the health benefits of coffee and pump you full of sugar, carbs, trans fats, and toxins — AVOID ‘em at all costs.

You’ll also want to be careful about adding creamer to your coffee.

black_coffee

The Zagat survey mentioned above revealed that half-and-half is the most popular dairy creamer folks pour in their coffee — skim milk trails at a distant second place.

Ounce for ounce, half-and-half has FOUR times the calories of skim milk. The other significant difference between half-and-half and milk is fat content.

One tablespoon of half-and-half contains 2 grams of fat. The same serving of skim milk contains no fat at all. (A tablespoon of whole milk contains a 0.5 grams of fat.)

If you like a little creamer in your coffee and you’re trying to slim down, skip the half-and-half and use skim milk instead.

Half-and-half may seem like a negligible amount of fat and calories when compared to more obvious calorie-culprits like a burger and fries value meal.

What I’ve found, though, is that these small “sneaky” fat and calorie sources quickly add up to make weight loss far more difficult.

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Coffee: Great Taste & Good For You!

Coffee is a surprisingly good-for-you drink.

Isn’t it nice to know such an enjoyable daily habit is actually good for your health?

(Don’t you wish the same could be said for a late night bowl of ice cream!)

If you know a fellow coffee lover who would enjoy learning about the health benefits of their favorite drink, would you consider sharing this article?

Simply click or tap on any of the social share icons (Facebook, Google+, etc.) you see below. I really appreciate it!

Your turn: Do you drink coffee? Were you surprised to learn coffee is a healthy beverage? Or, do you know of other health benefits we should include on our list? Let us know in the comment section below!

6 Comments

  • David Arellanes says:

    Can decaf give you the same benefits or just regular coffe I think all these fancy coffee nixes with sugar are the worse I use non-dairy creamer if I use it at all and I primarily use decaf as sometimes caffeine can raise my blood pressure thank you

    • Dr. Charles Livingston D.C. Dr. Charles Livingston D.C. says:

      Hi David, yes, decaf can give you the same benefits as regular coffee minus the caffeine benefits. But decaf coffees will use chemical solvents to pull caffeine out, so just be aware of that.

  • Beverly Mascari says:

    I drink decaf coffee because caffeine can make me jumpy. Would it be better to mix it 1/2 and 1/2?

  • JohnR Howard says:

    Dr. Livingston, I use Almond Milk in my Coffee. Any Down Sides to Almond Milk compared to 1/2 &1/2 or other Creamers? Any Recomendations if Almond Milk is not-so-good?

    • Dr. Charles Livingston D.C. Dr. Charles Livingston D.C. says:

      Hey John! Almond Milk is fantastic. So is Cashew Milk. Try to get unsweetened. Otherwise, there will be too much sugar in it.

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