Do you need a lot of coffee to get through the day, but are worried about the effect it has on your health? Well, relax and pour yourself another cup, because it’s looking as though the health benefits of coffee are now outweighing the hazards.

A recent study by Harvard scientists showed that men who drink six or more cups of coffee a day are 20 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.  Men who drink less than that also benefit, as they are nearly 30 percent less likely to develop more serious, potentially lethal forms of the disease.  Caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee made no difference to the results.

Coffee is also a rich source of antioxidants, more than green tea, grapes and even “superfruits” like blueberries and raspberries.  Further, it has been proven to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle aged and younger women, as well as the risk of Parkinson’s Disease in both men and women.  If that isn’t convincing enough, coffee is also beneficial in protecting against liver damage, kidney stones, gallstones and gout, and has been shown to help in the management of asthma.  It’s even good for brain health–studies have shown that people who drink two or more cups of coffee per day are significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.  There is even some evidence that five or more cups per day may reverse some memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s.

For many years coffee consumption has been discouraged by physicians and health experts, with herbal teas promoted as a healthier alternative.  However, it appears that even the detrimental health effects of coffee are not usually caused by coffee itself, but by a pre-existing condition.  Coffee can aggravate high blood pressure, as well as some anxiety disorders, but the effects are usually minimized by drinking it decaffeinated.  It also slightly increases the chance of developing osteoporosis, but mostly in women who are either predisposed to develop the disease or who do not get enough calcium in their diets.  Coffee has also been found to raise the level of “bad” cholesterol in the body, but only when it’s prepared unfiltered, such as with Turkish coffee.

So is coffee the real, unheralded “superfood”? Not likely, as there’s no such thing as one food that is all things to all people.  If you weren’t drinking coffee already, there’s probably no need to start now, as there are other foods and drinks that offer similar benefits.  However, if you’re thinking you should cut back on coffee or quit entirely, don’t worry about it! Turns out it’s doing you more good than harm.

Gena Radcliffe

Medex Supply Blogger

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