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Your coffee habit might be saving your life

Posted October 07, 2011 in Uncategorized

“Can I please get a venti decaf, sugar-free hazelnut, non-fat, no foam, no whip, extra hot caramel macchiato with five pumps of sugar-free hazelnut syrup?” There’s no denying it. Coffee has become part of the American Culture and the American Diet.

Whether you’re a fan of our coffee culture or not, coffee is here to stay, supported by the fact that the average American drank 26 gallons of coffee in 2009. While this may sound like a lot, recent research has shown astonishing disease fighting and health improving properties of daily coffee consumption, especially in higher doses. People in the U.S. get the majority of their antioxidant intake from coffee. A typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than an average serving of blueberries. The properties of the special antioxidants and polyphenols found in coffee, along with the effects of the caffeine itself, may play a major part in prevention and ultimately treatment of a number of degenerative diseases.

One of the most recent findings to gain attention is coffee’s incredible association with lower skin cancer risk. A study of nearly 94,000 women found that daily coffee drinkers had an almost 11 percent lower risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, and that women who drank six or more cups daily had a 30 percent reduction in risk. In addition to actually being able to absorb UV rays, caffeine inhibits a chemical pathway responsible for repairing DNA damage in cells caused by UV radiation. While this repair process may sound like a good thing, the problem is that sometimes these cells don’t repair properly and can go on to become cancer cells. By inhibiting this process and letting these cells die, the  risk of them becoming cancerous is eliminated. Caffeine inhibits a similar process in breast cancer development, by promoting cell death of damaged, potentially malignant cells in the breast.

In addition to several other types of cancer, research has linked high, daily coffee consumption to reduced risk of Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Stroke, Dementia including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s, Type 2 Diabetes, Liver Cirrhosis, and Asthma. Some studies have found that coffee actually improves social skills, and reduces symptoms of depression and rate of suicide.

Ok, so coffee fights cancer and heart disease, but is it really worth the bad breath? Contrary to the implications of the common phrase “coffee breath,” a study from the International Society for Breath Odor Research in Germany (yes, this is a real thing) showed that certain compounds in coffee may ultimately reduce bad breath by eliminating bacteria responsible for halitosis.

The verdict is in. Coffee has tremendous health benefits when included in your daily nutrition, as part of your anti-aging lifestyle. But not all coffee drinks are created equally. A 6 oz. cup of black coffee has about 7 calories. Add a bit of half  & half or creamer and you’re looking at about 50 calories. Every teaspoon of sugar you add from there is about 23 calories more. Do your body a favor and stay away from any of those fancy, sugar filled coffee concoctions. A 16 oz. Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino has 370 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 54 grams of sugar. A 16 oz. McDonalds Frappe, which makes the Starbucks Frappuccino look like a diet drink in comparison, contains a whopping 560 calories, 24 grams of fat, and 70 grams of sugar. That’s the same amount of sugar as 17 and a half of the sugar packets you might use to sweeten your regular coffee! Sugary, artificial coffee drinks have so much sugar that the harmful effects of consuming the sugar on a regular basis far outweigh the health benefits of whatever trace amount of actual coffee they may contain. Caffeine also increases metabolism and energy available for exercise which aids in weight loss, as long as you minimize added milk and sugar, and steer clear of the muffins, bagels, and donuts that often go with it.

Drink up!