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Coffee ~ Friend Or Foe? June 28, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.

Coffee is the beverage we love to love . . . despite its occasional bad press.

Pour me a cup of Joe
Java juice to jump-start my day
Fragrant beans to fill my cup
Earthy elixir to light my way

So . . . is coffee our friend our foe?

Well, it depends on who you ask and when you ask them.

But, lately, more and more evidence suggests that downing a few cups of coffee each morning is a great way to start the day!

According to the Harvard Health Letter (Harvard Medical School), coffee,  chocolate, and alcohol have been cleared of much negative press and are now garnering recognition for health benefits when used “in moderation.”

Here’s some of the mostly good news about coffee:

Blood pressure. Results from long-term studies are showing that coffee may not increase the risk for high blood pressure over time, as previously thought.  Study findings for other cardiovascular effects are a mixed bag.

Cancer. Coffee might have anti-cancer properties.  Last year, researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. A few studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast, and rectal cancers.

Cholesterol. Two substances in coffee — kahweol and cafestol — raise cholesterol levels. Paper filters capture these substances, but that doesn’t help the many people who now drink non-filtered coffee drinks, such as lattes. Researchers have also found a link between cholesterol increases and decaffeinated coffee, possibly because of the type of bean used to make certain decaffeinated coffees.

Diabetes. Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.

Parkinson’s disease. Coffee seems to protect men, but not women, against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the sex difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.

A related article, Coffee: The New Health Food?, from WebMD states:

Want a drug that could lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and colon cancer? That could lift your mood and treat headaches? That could lower your risk of cavities?

If it sounds too good to be true, think again.

Coffee, the much maligned but undoubtedly beloved beverage, just made headlines for possibly cutting the risk of the latest disease epidemic, type 2 diabetes. And the real news seems to be that the more you drink, the better.

“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world. “For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”

But, wait, there’s more!

Coffee even offsets some of the damage caused by other vices, some research indicates. “People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee compared to those who don’t,” says DePaulis.

Awesome!  A vice that’s nice . . . and negates other vices!

Bottoms up, fill your cup ~ dive into your day
Harvard says that coffee is more than okay
Wake up, world, and savor that café au lait
Our friendly morning beverage is here to stay

Related post:  One Mind, One Muse


1. Shannon Sullivan - June 28, 2010

The interesting thing about this is that I have one espresso a day but I have to have it in the afternoon after my belly has enough food in it to absorb the caffeine. If I drink it in the morning, I get the jitters 😉

nrhatch - June 28, 2010


Espresso = hard core! : )

2. Paula - June 28, 2010

The only thing I like about coffee is the aroma. I have tried on more than one occasion to drink it in order to be sociable, but I just can’t stand the taste! I don’t want any added to my chocolate, either – “mocha” is a terrible thing to do to good old chocolate! Don’t even like coffee ice cream.

Now, the virtues of tea…that’s a WHOLE other subject. Perhaps I’ll do an ode to tea…yep…I’m off to do that right now, but first I’ll brew another pot! (And no teabags for me…loose tea is the only way to go, and I blend my own!)

nrhatch - June 28, 2010

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. : )

When I’m not feeling well, I’d rather have tea than coffee. I also like loose tea vs. bags (but I often use bags if I’m just having a single mug).

Shannon Sullivan - June 28, 2010

Do you have a favorite tea, Paula?

3. Chrissie - June 28, 2010

Oh Brilliant!! Thank You for this. I too drink tea when I am a bit under the weather, but am a huge coffee lover. I drink it all the time. Strong and black.
I knew it had some health benefits, and obviously aware of its negative reputation. I used to only drink red tea and coffee. I drink normal tea these days, especially a milky one first thing, if a bit hung over 🙂
But coffee is one of the great gifts of the Gods. I am passionate about it, have always wanted to go to Turkey, to try the coffee alone!
Keep waving the flag for coffee 🙂
It is a great subject, similar preferences that make you either one or the other. It seems to say so much about a person
Tea or coffee?
Cats or dogs?
I love cats and coffee, but enjoy tea and dogs at friends.

nrhatch - June 28, 2010

I’m with you, Chrissie!

My daily preference is cats and coffee
But I’m on good terms with dogs and tea

4. TheIntentionalSage - June 28, 2010

You might be interested to know that cortisol levels are naturally at their peak during the morning… and most people (not saying any of you) drink their coffee in the morning to give themselves that early ‘jolt’ to get going.

However, it would seem that the body’s natural inclination, through the elevated cortisol levels, is already attempting to give us that morning jolt.

With Love and Gratitude,

The Intentional Sage

PS: I heard about this information through a documentary series on BBC by Michio Kaku on “Time.” Specifically, it was the episode on “Life-time.”

nrhatch - June 28, 2010


I enjoy coffee in the morning because it tastes good, smells good, and eases me into the day in a pleasant way.

The rest of the day, my beverage of choice is good old H2O.

5. milkfever - June 28, 2010

You wonderful, wonderful woman! I love this post. I collect evidence that my vices are good for me. I’ve done a lot of research into coffee and it definitely gets two thumbs up. The only downside is the fact that it can leach calcium from the bones. But that can be fixed by having calcium rich foods or supplements. Chocolate and red wine are good for us too!!
In moderation of course.
x Lisa

nrhatch - June 28, 2010

You’re welcome, milkfever.

Like anything, coffee has its pros and its cons . . . but it’s my favorite way to start the day so I thought I would gather some of the pros together in one place. : )

6. Paula - June 29, 2010

Shannon, I have several favorites. I also like to blend them. I love Earl Gray (just call me Captain Picard) and Lady Earl Gray (EG with Lavender), Jasmine, Prince of Wales, English & Irish Breakfasts, Oolong, and Lapsang Soochong. Also, I enjoy rohibos and some of the herbals – such as mint or ginger, but I don’t call them tea, those are tisanes or distillations. They don’t have the same punch for me as do the caffeinated varieties. I like my tea stiff and sweet. Sometimes I will put lemon in hot tea, I always put lemon in iced tea – and I make iced tea from all the varieties listed above!

I drink a lot – both iced and hot. When I brew a pot in the morning, I do a quart, which I can usually consume before the tea gets too cold to be called hot tea – then I’ll just ice it for later!

Shannon Sullivan - June 29, 2010

All sound excellent! Thanks for sharing with us. I like the rohibos with mint. 😉

7. nrhatch - June 29, 2010

Thanks for the great list, Paula.

One of my favorite teas growing up –> Constant Comment with orange zest and lemon and other flavors.

I also like “new age” teas like vanilla caramel truffle and lemon tuscany.

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