Coffee & Coffee Substitutes

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The Healthy Coffee Habit

 

If you're a coffee addict, give up the guilt. That morning cup -- and even a couple more -- can be good for you. Many reputable scientific sources such as the Mayo Clinic, Harvard, the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition claim that caffeinated coffee is not harmful to your health and in fact has multiple health benefits. Here are a few of the perks that coffee can provide to your health, many of which are still being researched.

Healthy Body Weight

Coffee can contribute to weight loss and maintenance in several ways. First, caffeine boosts your metabolism, which means that your body will process and burn calories faster. Coffee by itself is also a low-calorie beverage, so you don't have to count it much towards your daily calorie intake. Lastly, if you drink coffee before a workout, it will give you a boost of energy that can help you exercise harder and longer. This helps you burn more calories and build more muscle and bone mass.

Brain Boost

Caffeine slightly increases your short-term cognitive ability. Not just coffee addicts are reporting this. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that people who drank coffee were better able to spot grammatical errors. Caffeine also increases alertness if you're drowsy -- even better than a nap.

Mood Boost

Moderate coffee intake reduces the occurrence of depression, particularly in women. It does this by controlling the release of mood transmitters that cause feelings of sadness and hopelessness. While coffee may not be the cure for every case of depression, according to Harvard researchers it certainly can't hurt. Even if you don't have depression, coffee can help you be perkier, friendlier and generally be in a better mood.

Preventing Long-Term Brain Degeneration

New studies suggest that drinking coffee reduces your risk of developing degenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. It still isn't clear exactly why this happens.

Preventing Cancer

Various studies suggest that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from different types of cancer including colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer. As with degenerative brain diseases, the key link in prevention isn't clear.

Preventing Type 2 diabetes

Some studies also suggest correlation between regularly drinking coffee and decreasing the risk of developing this adult-onset disease. Further research is needed to prove a strong correlation and a cause.

Antioxidants

Coffee beans are loaded with chemicals called antioxidants that help your body fight off disease and repair itself. Many Americans get more antioxidants from caffeinated coffee than from any other source. While it hasn't been proven, antioxidants may be at least part of the reason why coffee drinkers reduce their risk for the diseases listed above.

Making The Most Of It

To get the most out of your coffee, try to drink it in its purest form. Espresso is best because most of coffee's antioxidants come from the beginning of the extraction process. Espresso shots are made by running a small amount of water through finely ground beans -- extracting the strongest flavour and nutrients. If you run more water through the beans, such as with a standard coffee maker, your coffee will be more acidic and caffeinated. While you should have some caffeine to experience the most health benefits, you don't need to overload on it. A double shot of espresso has 50 mg of caffeine, while an eight-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 135 mg. If you can't handle the strong flavour of espresso by itself, try an Americano -- espresso added to a cup of water. If you can't afford espresso all of the time, try to drink the first cup that comes out of your coffee maker, which is the best part of the brew. Using a French press is also a good way to get the best qualities out of the beans. Also, skip out on added creams, sugars and syrups, which can add empty calories and offset your coffee's health benefits.


Health Disclaimer. Copyright 2013-2018. Published with permission. Gina Poirier is a freelance writer and is not directly affiliated with avivahealth.com.

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