We can all list many foods and drinks that are bad for our health. So when we find out that we can actually take something off that list we tend to celebrate. Take coffee, for example. A beverage that is the most commonly consumed in the U.S., according to the National Coffee Association. For many, drinking coffee is a morning ritual that some may consider essential to starting the day off right. While it is chock-full of caffeine (95mg to be exact), we might wonder if it is really good for our health. Well, it turns out that it is!
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. You know, the molecules that help keep us healthy and preventing disease. But do we really understand how important antioxidants are? Our body creates its own to help combat free radicals, which occur when an oxygen molecule splits into a single atom with unpaired electrons. Electrons are designed to be in pairs, so these free radicals begin searching throughout the body for electrons to pair with. This causes havoc to the body, specifically cells, proteins and DNA. Free radicals are a normal by-product of chemical processes like metabolism. However, we can increase the number in our body by the choices we make, too.
Fried foods, alcohol, and tobacco smoke all help to create free radicals, as do pesticides and air pollutants. This creates an imbalance within the body, as now the naturally occurring antioxidants are outnumbered. If left unchallenged, certain health risks increase. These health risks can range from cancer and cardiovascular disease, to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
We can combat this imbalance through what we eat and drink. Coffee is one of those incredible defenders. According to studies from Vanderbilt Institute, drinking coffee regularly can:
- reduce the risks of Parkinson’s disease by 80%
- colon cancer by 25%
- cirrhosis of the liver by 80%
- lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes
- and lower the risk of liver cancer
So, how much coffee is recommended? No more than four cups a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Any more than that can result in sleeplessness, upset stomach, increased heart rate, and crankiness. As for the type of coffee, straight up is best. That is, without all the extra sweeteners like sugar, artificial sweeteners, heavy cream, and whole milk. Specialty coffee drinks like lattes and the like are filled with calories. If you really need to add a bit a sweetness to your cup of coffee, opt for something more natural. Good alternatives are honey, stevia, and almond or soy milk.
You might just discover that you really enjoy the taste of coffee, without doctoring it up.