To your health: Study suggests coffee in moderation good for boost, health

By Alfred Casale - To Your Health | October 17th, 2017 6:00 am

Coffee does more than wake you up

Beep! Beep! Beep! Bam! Hit the snooze button …

The archenemy of everyone on Monday morning — especially after a long, busy or exciting weekend — the alarm clock. But there’s still one thing that can make it all better. After hitting the snooze button a few times, you shuffle out of bed and make a beeline for the coffee maker.

And you’re not alone. Per capita, Americans drink about one cup of coffee a day (coming in 16th in the amount of coffee consumed globally).

Coffee is the first thing on many people’s minds when they wake up. Believe it or not, that may be beneficial to your health. Coffee contains many nutrients, antioxidants and other chemicals that can not only give you a boost of energy but also help you stay healthy.

Here are three health benefits of coffee:

Lower blood sugar and risk of diabetes

While the rest of your body gets a boost from coffee, your blood sugar level may go the opposite direction. Doctors aren’t entirely sure which chemicals in coffee lower blood sugar, but both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have this effect. Some studies suggest the effects may be greater in decaffeinated coffee. With each cup of coffee daily, your risk of Type 2 diabetes decreases by seven percent. For those who drink four to six cups daily, they have a 28 percent lower risk. But this amount of caffeine is not recommended for most people, and studies show that too much caffeine can be dangerous or even deadly. Some of the worse effects are on your heart’s electrical system and can lead to fast, irregular heart rhythms, like atrial fibrillation. Be sure to monitor how caffeine affects you, and talk to your doctor if you consume this much coffee.

Lower risk of heart failure

Two or more cups of coffee every day could be doing more than just getting your blood pumping. One Harvard study says that two or more cups of coffee every day can protect against heart failure — particularly for women. People in the study who drank four cups of coffee a day had an 11 percent lower risk. Green tea also seems to have similar effects on stroke and heart disease risks when drank in similar quantities.

Antioxidant and nutrient boost

One of my medical school colleagues was convinced in 1976 that coffee was one of the healthiest drinks in the world. He swore that coffee got him through college and med school. Well Joe B., from New Jersey, who became a famous gynecologist, turns out you were probably right all along. Along with cancer-fighting antioxidants, coffee contains a fair amount of nutrients like vitamin B2 and vitamin B5.

Some studies have shown that some people get more of their daily value of antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables combined. In addition to vitamins B2 and B5, coffee also contains magnesium, manganese, potassium and niacin. There are other chemicals such as kahweol and cafestol that may have some nutritional value, but more research is needed.

The healthiest way to drink coffee is without cream and sugar. An average cup of coffee has about one calorie and no fat. Sugar adds 16 calories per teaspoon, and cream adds 44 calories per tablespoon (mostly from saturated fat).

So the science is in; coffee can give you a boost and contribute to good health as long as it’s enjoyed in moderation. And Ron, moderation means two to three cups or so a day … not six to eight!

Alfred Casale To Your Health Casale To Your Health

By Alfred Casale

To Your Health

Dr. Alfred Casale, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is Associate Chief Medical Officer for Geisinger Health and Chair of the Geisinger Cardiac Institute. Readers may write to him via [email protected]