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Health Effects of Coffee – Health Benefits of Caffeine

Research work about the health effects of coffee has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 25 years. One outcome of this phenomenon was that health workers consistently warned the public that drinking the beverage habitually might be unsafe. More recent studies suggest, but, that coffee may really be more beneficial than harmful to health. That should be news for the myriad throughout the world who consume it.

Caffeine, the primary ingredient of coffee, is considered a mild pick-me-up that counts raised blood pressure, increased heart rate, and occasional irregular heartbeats among its immediate effects. Of late, researchers have been veering toward the view that these physiological reactions are by far insignificant and transient.

What they are increasingly recognizing from empirical data is that coffee is a drink that has an assortment of potential health benefits to offer. There is evidence, for example, that coffee reduces the risk for colon cancer if consumed at the rate of four cups a day — not the most salutary effect you can cite considering that intake at such an amount can easily lead to greater ills. But there are other, more pertinent findings that depict coffee, even at moderate consumption levels, as a protagonist rather than a culprit in human health.

Like wine, coffee has antioxidants that get rid of free radicals in the blood and consequently lower the risk of heart disease and some types of cancers. A number of studies showed that the concentration of antioxidants in coffee is higher than that in tomatoes, apples or cranberries. Some scientists point out, but, that fruits and vegetables have an edge, as far as being sources of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber is concerned.

Research works from China present strong evidence that coffee can diminish the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Two scientific reports, one from the U.S. and the other from Scandinavia, indicate that both decaffeinated and regular coffee lessen the odds for developing type-2 diabetes.

Positive effects of coffee on the digestive system have been observed as well. There is reason to believe from available data that coffee may lessen the chances of developing calculi (stones) in the kidney and the gall bladder. Caffeine is also known to induce the secretion of stomach acids, which improves digestion, or the breakdown of food.

Caffeine has been demonstrated to ease constriction of respiratory airways in asthmatic individuals, if ingested in moderation. Another vital ingredient of coffee, theophylline, adds to this salutary effect by acting as a bronchodilator.

Needless to say, there are risks that go with coffee’s promise as a health-promoting drink. Some studies draw an association between substantial coffee intake and a tendency toward infertility. (Mammalian spermatozoa, though, have been found to swim much better in coffee-laced fluids.) A possible connection between increased consumption of coffee and higher blood levels of homocysteine, a suspected risk factor for coronary heart disease, has also been demonstrated. Some studies point to an increase in low-density lipoprotein (“terrible” cholesterol) as a result of drinking coffee. How significant these factors are in helping to cause heart attack is subject to debate.

Most coffees made by the European way of boiling ground beans contain cafestol, a substance said to have the effect of raising the levels of cholesterol in humans. Many Americans, but, like their coffee percolated or filtered, processes which remove cafestol, except in the case of decaf.

Women coffee drinkers have been found to have lower calcium levels and bone mineral densities than non-consumers. And those that take four or more cups a day double their risk of contracting urinary incontinence.

On the whole — and most people will now probably agree — the beneficial impact of coffee on health outweighs its potentially adverse effects, at least when consumed in judicious amounts. Coffee guzzlers might want to reduce their caffeine intake by substituting with colas. One ounce of your regular cola contains only one-third the caffeine found in coffee of the same quantity. But Coke in place of a Latte? The switch doesn’t sound like it’s worth the sacrifice in flavor and in number of health benefits.

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