Coffee consumption has rapidly increased in the U.S. in the past few years. Aside from its wonderful taste and the stimulating affect of caffeine, coffee’s rising popularity is now due in part to social factors as evidenced by coffeehouses springing up all over the country. Many Americans cannot get their day started without their first cup of coffee. The familiar morning routine that resonates in so many households across the country begins with the ringing of the alarm clock, and ends with that much anticipated cup of freshly brewed coffee. Coffee used to have a bad reputation, but recent research suggests that drinking moderate amounts of coffee provides a wide range of health benefits.
Health Benefits of Coffee
Ever thought that drinking your daily cup of coffee could actually improve your health? The tannins and antioxidants that appear naturally in coffee are well known to fight free radicals and other assaults on the body. From containing so many protective antioxidants to reducing the risk of asthma attacks, coffee may be the answer.
Antioxidants are chemical compounds that protect the body’s cells from the damaging effects of oxidation. They help support the immune system, and consequently, may lower the risk of both cancer and heart disease. It is believed that the caffeine in coffee helps to improve the blood circulation within the heart and arteries. One study shows that in a comparison among various food groups, coffee had 64% of the total antioxidant intake.
Coffee may also lower the risk of gallstones by 45% and cirrhosis of the liver by 80%. A recent study confirms the existence of an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and liver cirrhosis, although researchers have not determined which component in the coffee is responsible for producing the protective effect.
Another benefit of coffee is a 25% reduction in the onset of attacks among asthma sufferers. This chronic disease causes the airways to close up due to inflammation, resulting in coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. One of the compounds in coffee, called theophylline, acts as a bronchodilator, which lessens these dangerous symptoms. So asthma sufferers should make sure to always pack their coffee pods to be prepared in case of emergency.
Often find yourself with a headache lasting throughout the day? It could be caused by stress at work, unruly children, or not enough sleep. The caffeine in coffee has been known to help in treating those headaches. Forget about your typical painkillers; use the convenience of the K-cup coffee system to brew a single cup of fresh coffee and have relief in minutes.
Ideal Amount of Coffee
On average, doctors recommend drinking 2-4 cups of coffee a day, which is considered to be a reasonable and moderate amount. Of course, people are all different, and some may choose to drink more and some may prefer to drink less, depending on their individual lifestyles, habits, and health issues.
An 8oz cup of coffee contains approximately 75mg of caffeine. Since excessive amounts of caffeine in coffee can be detrimental to your health, it is important not to exceed the recommended 300mg of caffeine a day. Using a K-cup coffee maker to brew one cup of coffee at a time is one of the best ways to monitor your coffee consumption.
Do Specialty or “Gourmet” Coffees Confer the Same Health Benefits as Regular Coffee?
The answer is yes. Most of the specialty drinks people order at Starbucks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, etc., has espresso as their foundation. Espresso is thought to be even better for your health than regular coffee. The reason may be as simple as the method of brewing. Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is produced when water is forced under high pressure over finely ground coffee. The best of the coffee’s ingredients is “expressed” out in a quick method. Many scientists believe this keeps the positive elements intact longer (i.e. the powerful antioxidants) and with more integrity to maximize the health benefits. A professor at the University of Munster noted that in comparison to regular coffee, espresso has 2-3 times the amount of cancer-fighting agents.
Espresso is notoriously difficult to brew, and many people never master the art of creating the perfect espresso shot. As a result, coffee pod machines, with their ability to deliver a high quality cup of coffee consistently, have expanded into the espresso market. Now coffee lovers can enjoy a great cup of espresso, with all its health benefits, with just a push of a button!
Who Should Avoid Coffee
Although coffee may be the way to go, it may not be the best choice for everyone. Some people with particular health conditions should avoid coffee. Women who are pregnant should be extremely careful with their intake of coffee and caffeine. High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight or even miscarriage. Other common effects of pregnancy and coffee, caffeine to be specific, include delayed conception, prematurity, and sometimes even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The evidence regarding the affect of excessive consumption of coffee on the development of heart disease is inconclusive. But it still might be prudent for people who drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day to cut down, especially if they have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease.
People with stomach ulcers should also try to avoid coffee. Coffee, tea, colas, and foods that contain caffeine seem to stimulate acid secretion in the stomach, aggravating the pain of an existing ulcer. So, anyone with a stomach ulcer should cut out coffee to help alleviate symptoms.
As anything else, the coffee experience has its benefits and its drawbacks. The key word here seems to be moderation. As long as you don’t over do it, you can continue to indulge in your favorite brew everyday for the rest of your life and live healthily ever after!
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