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Good news for coffee lovers

Coffee’s been getting a lot of positive press lately - almost to the point of being promoted as a health food!

Times sure have changed.

Back in the days when I was studying nutrition the coffee habit was usually treated as if an addiction (like alcohol, tobacco or drugs). Despite the general acceptance that coffee contained antioxidants, there was never anything good to say about it. On the contrary – it was an anti-nutrient, intestinal irritant, adrenal stressor, diuretic, and promoted premature aging of the skin. These were the main reasons for recommending that people reduce their intake to no more than one cup a day (or preferably give it up completely if they possibly could).

Coffee can protect your health

While undeniably there is truth in the above (not to mention that over consumption often results in irritability and insomnia), coffee is definitely enjoying a rebirth of sorts – and for good reason. For one thing, no study has ever shown that drinking coffee contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or diabetes. In fact there is growing evidence that coffee may actually protect against the risk of diabetes 2, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and liver disease. No longer is coffee considered just a vehicle for caffeine. Rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anticoagulant properties, it also appears to improve both mood and athletic performance.

So it looks like coffee might actually be good for us – with some caveats. Here’s how to get the best of it:

  • Most health benefits are linked to moderate consumption (2-4 cups a day of filtered coffee – 2 expressos) – don’t overdo it.
  • Buy organic dark roasted coffee – less toxins, less caffeine and more antioxidants.
  • If possible grind your grains yourself – the oils in pre-ground coffee can go rancid quite quickly.
  • Milk and sugar add calories – ideally opt for black (which has none) or use in moderation (cappuchinos, frappachinos and the like contain anything from 100 to 600 calories!).
  • If pregnant don’t exceed I cup daily – the fetus is extremely sensitive to caffeine and over consumption has been linked to miscarriage).

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