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Coffee can be healthy

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th April 2010 03:00 AM

IT is said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but how about a cup of coffee? If you enjoy having a good cup of coffee in the morning, here is some good news.

By Rachel Bahika

IT is said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but how about a cup of coffee? If you enjoy having a good cup of coffee in the morning, here is some good news.

Besides keeping you alert and awake, coffee has been linked to an increasing number of potential health benefits, including protection against liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, gall bladder and Parkinson’s disease, according to some recently published studies.

Certain foods are naturally high in antioxidants, which are natural substances that slow down the effects of premature aging, support the immune system and help prevent chronic degenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Antioxidants are classified into micronutrients and polyphenols. Micronutrient antioxidants include vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin E (tocopherol), Vitamin A (carotenoid) and the mineral selenium.

Polyphenols are plant-based antioxidants which are found in fruits, vegetables, soya beans, red wine, green and black tea, spices like sage and rosemary, citrus fruits, onions and olives and in coffee as well.

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 2001 shows that in comparison to a cup of green tea, herbal teas and cocoa, a cup of coffee contains the most amount of polyphenols.

The study shows that a cup of coffee still retains a large amount of polyphenols — despite the process of roasting the coffee beans, decaffeination or adding milk, and has up to four times more polyphenols than a cup of green tea.

Consuming coffee even 20 minutes after brewing will deliver 300 phytochemicals (antioxidants), which will stay in the human system for up to one month.

We can, therefore, safely come to the conclusion that in moderation (two to four cups per day) coffee offers many health benefits.

However, coffee does warrant some cautions. Both regular and decaffeinated coffee relax the muscle that keeps stomach acids from rising into the throat, so those with heartburn or reflux disease are encouraged to avoid or strictly limit coffee.

People with hypertension or those who have trouble sleeping should also limit or avoid caffeinated coffee.

Studies suggest that it is unnecessary for pregnant women to completely avoid caffeinated coffee. Until the impact of caffeine is more clearly understood, however, many experts suggest that pregnant women limit their daily caffeine from coffee, soft drinks and other sources to about 300mg, the equivalent of three cups of regular coffee.

It is exciting that something as simple as drinking coffee might help lower our risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

However, while brewed coffee (not instant) is a concentrated source of antioxidants, it cannot be a substitute for berries, legumes, nuts and other fruits and vegetables that provide antioxidants along with a wide range of vitamins, protective compounds and dietary fibre.

Coffee can be healthy

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