Health Benefits of Coffee
You know the best thing about mice? No, it’s not the fact that they’re related to Mickey and Minnie, although that is a rather big deal too. The best thing is that gaggles of mice in laboratories around the world keep providing evidence for studies which make us jump with joy – stuff like anti-carcinogenic diets, memory-boosting foods, anti-aging products and my personal favourite, benefits of coffee! 😀
A little personal background first:
I used to have a set of kiddie encyclopaedias when I was 8. In one of them, I read some legend about the discovery of coffee. An Ethiopian shepherd noticed his sheep acting like frisky lambs after eating the berry-like fruit of a nearby shrub. He took the berries to a nearby monastery where a monk declared them evil and threw them into the fire. The aroma was so enticing that the rest of the monks made a brew out of the roasted berries and voilà, the drink which helps millions forge alertness was born. Fascinated, I threw a tantrum and demanded coffee the moment I read that story, but being the typical tyrants that my parents were, they gave me one spank on my bottom and practically drowned me in tubs of Bournvita (“tann ki shakti, mann ki shakti”, my foot).
That trauma effectively ended my interest in coffee for the next 7-8 years. Then, I made a new friend who only drank black coffee and quoted Charles Maurice de Talleyrand’s views on the beverage all the time:
“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
Being the unstable teenager that I was, I caved in to peer pressure and finally decided to try the drink which made the world go ’round and needless to say, a cup of black, well-brewed coffee was my first boyfriend. Obviously, the course of true love never did run smooth. My affair with black coffee was opposed by everyone. Unhealthy for the heart, bad for the skin and teeth, horrible for the nervous system, a hindrance the normal body functions, etc. were some of the accusations levied on poor innocent coffee by family and friends, and I was forced to drink it in secret like an alcoholic taking guilty swigs from a forbidden bottle.
Then, the mice came and ended my sob story, and the world was happy and shining again! I have vast printouts of convoluted and intelligent looking studies which prove that I have GREAT taste and I shove them under the noses of all the coffee bashers.
A Special Note to the Naysayers:
Many of the studies which you coffee bashers quote are older than your own selves and these studies did not take into account the subjects’ smoking habits which affected the results to a LARGE extent. Besides, poor harmless caffeine which is blamed even more than Mayawati for so many problems is not the culprit per se. Even a 50 gram bar of milk chocolate can contain up to 25 mg of caffeine. Will you give that chocolate up? Not on your precious coffee-hating life, right? Also, the whining about insomnia caused by coffee? Well, if you guzzle it down as your bedtime drink, what else do you expect?
Let me state a revolutionary fact in this coffee-hating age – pure, unadulterated, freshly brewed, sinful black coffee has more health benefits than you could ever dream of.
Here’s a list of why black is beautiful:
1.) Awesome Antioxidants:
Bored of drinking litres of green tea throughout the day? Try black coffee. The caffeine in coffee contains oodles of antioxidants which help prevent several types of cancer. Japanese researchers claim that the risk of colon cancer can be reduced by up to 40% for coffee drinkers in comparison to coffee abstainers. Harvard Medical School studies have suggested that coffee drinkers were 50 percent less likely to get liver cancer than people who do not drink coffee.
A 2008 study indicated that these antioxidants help to lower risk of heart disease as well. According to the researchers, women consuming two to three cups of coffee (caffeinated, not that fancy-schmancy decaf nonsense) per day had a 25 percent lower risk of death from heart disease than the non-coffee drinkers. The antioxidants in coffee may have several heart friendly effects which improve blood vessel function, reduce inflammation, and protect LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from oxidation.
Every skin care obsessed girl also knows what else antioxidants do. That’s right! They help you stay pretty. 😀 Green tea has hordes of followers precisely because of its antioxidant content which delays ageing. Spread the love to black coffee too. For every mug of green tea which squeals “I have antioxidants!”, there is an awesome espresso shot which roars, “I have MORE!”
2.) Avoids Alzheimer’s and Prevents Parkinson’s:
Coffee has been proven to cut the risk of these two degenerative diseases. A 2009 study found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee a day were 65 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s as compared to the coffee shunning lot. Other research suggests that the caffeine in coffee may reduce production of the protein beta-amyloid, deposits of which often form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Several studies have also linked coffee with a lower risk of the neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease. A 2007 study revealed that people who drank one to four cups of coffee per day cut their chances of developing this problem by about 50 percent. Apparently, the dopamine boosting caffeine in coffee causes this miraculous benefit.
3.) Deters Diabetes:
In a 2010 study by Japanese researchers, two groups of diabetes prone mice were put on the same diet except that one lucky group got black coffee and the other less privileged lot got plain water instead.
Results? Hooray to coffee! The first group made black coffee proud as the scientists discovered that those beautiful mice had beaten back hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) through improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. The results have been attributed to high magnesium and antioxidant content found in coffee. As an added benefit, the mice lost abdominal fat too because apparently, coffee prevents body from storing excessive glucose as flab. There are several other studies that also make these claims by analysing human coffee drinkers over a period of time, and the declarations are the same – you’re less likely to fall into the snare of Type II Diabetes if you join the Cult of Black Coffee.
4.) Guards Against Gout:
Have you read Georgette Heyer books? Or any books from the 18th/19th century? If yes, you may have read bad-tempered old folk being referred to as “gouty”. I always assumed it only meant sour-looking and ill-mannered, and never realised that it was a real disease, something like a mean old cousin of arthritis. And apparently, it is yet another dragon that coffee can slay. Research suggests that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of gout by 40-60%. Coffee (even decaffeinated) significantly lowered the amount of uric acid (a substance linked to gout) in the blood. Researchers believe that in this case, it’s not the cure-all caffeine but rather a special antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which is responsible for the drop in uric acid levels.
5.) Beats the Blues:
Admit it, after shopping and alcohol, coffee is probably the best instant mood-lifter ever (unless you’re badass and foolish enough to do drugs, and if that’s the case, I will have to tell your mommy). I never thought that what I consider an instant prep-me-up (and also a way to achieve world peace), is actually medically proven to decrease the risk of depression. According to a 10-year long research by Harvard Medical School, women who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had up to 15% lower risk of developing depression later in life. The reason? Same as ever. Good ol’ caffeine which releases the happy chemicals into your gullible little brain and make you all cheerful and bright. And also slightly
hyperactive but that’s not such a bad thing, right? Especially in a world where every second person walks around like a zombie looking for some brains to chew, it’s good to be alert.
6.) Loves the Liver:
You know that Hindi phrase “Jigar ka tukda” symbolising something extremely precious? Let me just say that make black coffee your “jigar ka tukda” and it will save that thing whose “tukda” it is from all harm. Coffee not only has an inverse correlation with liver cancer, but also with chronic liver degeneration. Several recent studies claim that drinking three or more cups of coffee also lowers risk of liver disease progression by more than 50%. No, that’s not a result you can get from drinking your precious little tea with your pinkie finger sticking out. This is coffee-only territory thanks to its polyphenols, chlorogenic acid and diterpenes.
7.) Cuts the Crap:
Literally. It is a great way to regulate bowel movements if your tummy has been misbehaving and putting you through the irritating punishment of constipation. And those nasty rumours about coffee being diuretic and dehydrating? Bleddy naansense, say the current studies! Caffeinated drinks, if consumed in moderation, cause no more dehydration or excessive trips to the loo than water.
These are just some of the reasons why you can only separate me from my coffee when you pry it from my cold, dead Java stained hands! Yes, it may have some flaws but who (my coffee is a living thing) doesn’t? I prefer to be a sickly sweet optimist and focus on the qualities than the flaws (like my mum taught me to 😛 ) and what else do I need to say in defense of poor, ill-reputed coffee? Only this – drink up!
*Note: Do not follow Max New York Life’s “Zyaada ka iraada” motto in case of coffee. Moderation (no matter how boring it sounds) is the key and do not expect it to exhibit all its benefits if you insult it outrageously by dumping a truckload of sugar and cream in it. Don’t forget that the black coffee drinking mice in that Japanese experiment on diabetes decreased belly flab too. Sure, your wannabe cream-swilling buddies will point and snicker at you if you cross over to the dark side, but who cares? Somewhere in Japan, there’s a bunch of mice with ripped abs who will back you up.
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