Center for Unhindered Living
Coffee - It's Health Benefits and Risks
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Many of us like our
morning cup of coffee. But is it really good for us? Let's
look at some information about coffee and some recent studies on it's
effects on our health.
First of all, how much caffeine is in coffee, both caffeinated and
decaffeinated? And how does the caffeine content of coffee
measure up to other beverages? According to the Mayo Clinic,
this is how coffee and other beverages tack up:
Generic, brewed, 8 oz cup
Generic, brewed, decaf, 8 oz cup 2-12mg
Black Tea, decaf
Coca-Cola Classic, 12 oz can
Coke Zero, 12 oz can
Pepsi Cola, 12 oz can
Diet Pepsi, 12 oz can
Mountain Dew, 12 oz can
There is a range of values for each item because the amount of caffeine
depends on a number of factors, such as roasting, grinding and brewing
time. The length of brew time also afffects the caffeine content
Now, let's separate the caffeine issue from the antioxidant
issue. Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the
diets of Americans at this time. That includes all other sources
of antioxidants combined. It has been shown to have a protective effect
in several different health areas. The results of studies show
that both green and roasted coffee possess antiradical activity, but
that it is higher in roasted than in green coffee. The degree of
roasting affects the antioxidant activity of the coffee, with medium
roast coffees showing the most activity. Addition of milk did not
alter the antioxidant activity. Robusta coffees showed more
activity than Arabica coffees.
The antioxidants in coffee have been shown to have a protective effect
against the most lethal kind of prostate cancer. It's not the
caffeine, it's the antioxidants, so both kinds of coffee - caffeinated
and decaffeinated - have the same effect. Coffee also helps
regulate insulin, and protects against Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and
Type 2 Diabetes.
However, don't dump sugar in that coffee. Sugar increases the
chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes, and wipes the positive
antioxidant effects of coffee. Sugar also impairs immune system
function, This results in a 50% reduction in the ability of white
blood cells to engulf bacteria. See The Dangers of
Sugar. Use Stevia or Xylitol instead.
If you decide you don't want the caffeine, there are other dangers to
consider. There are several methods by which coffee is
decaffeinated using a variety of solvents: Water, carbon dioxide,
methylene chloride, and ethyl acetate. Methylene chloride is a known
carcinogen, and after soaking the beans in this solvent, they are
washed, roasted and ground, leaving small amounts of the compound in
the coffee. The FDA does not believe these small amounts pose a
health risk and so have done nothing abut it. However, some
companies have voluntarily stopped using this chemical in favor
of ethyl acetate, which is supposedly less toxic. The Swiss
Water Process is the most desirable method of caffeine
extraction. In this process, the beans are allowed to soak in
water and this extracts about half of the caffeine. A good cup of
decaf should have no more than 2-4mg per cup. Federal regulations
state that coffee cannot be labeled as "decaffeinated" unless the
caffeine is reduced at least 97.5%.
However, what you aren't told is that many coffees are already 98
percent caffeine free before anything is done to remove the
caffeine. If you take this coffee and remove 97.5 percent of what
is there, you get a product that is less than 1% caffeine.
It would behoove you to read the label or talk to someone at the
company that makes your coffee and make sure it uses the Swiss Water
What are some of the health risks of coffee?
Those who drink coffee are more likely to develop kidney stones.
Studies show that individuals who drink coffee show an increased output
of calcium in their urine.
Those who drink an unusally high amount of coffee have a higher chance
of spontaneous abortion during pregnancy.
Changes in fetal heart rate and breathing have been observed when there
is no observable effect on the mother.
Although the link between caffeine and blood pressure is admittedly not
well understood, there appears to be ample evidence that coffee will at
least to some extent raise your blood pressure.
So, help prevent diabetes but raise your blood pressure? What a
Then there is the issue of pesticides. The three crops that have
the most pesticides are: coffee, cotton and tobacco. So
buying your coffee organic, whether regular or decaf, is very
important. Why Buy
Obstacles to a Healthy Body and Mind
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2002-13 Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living