Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Coffee Conundrum

After interviewing the lovely boys at Zekka today, I couldn't help but feeling a little out-of-sorts. Coffee is not a friend of mine. Don't get me wrong. I love the heady aroma of roasting beans, the happy sound of percolators percing and creamy foam lapping at my upper lip. It's just that coffee and my digestive tract do not get along. And it's left me with a bit of barista envy.

So, to alleviate my funk, I thought I'd seek out all the good stuff I was doing for my body while abstaining from all that caffeine. And found these little nuggets, pilfered from a recent article in The New York Times:

Health Concerns:
  • Heart disease. Heart patients, especially those with high blood pressure, are often told to avoid caffeine, a known stimulant. But an analysis of 10 studies of more than 400,000 people found no increase in heart disease among daily coffee drinkers, whether their coffee came with caffeine or not.
  • Cancer. Panic swept the US in 1981 when a Harvard study tied the drink to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Coffee consumption temporarily plummeted, and the researchers later concluded that perhaps smoking, not coffee, was the culprit.
  • Bone loss. Though some observational studies have linked caffeinated beverages to bone loss and fractures, human physiological studies have found only a slight reduction in calcium absorption and no effect on calcium excretion, suggesting the observations may reflect a diminished intake of milk-based beverages among coffee and tea drinkers.
  • Weight loss. Here’s a bummer. Although caffeine speeds up metabolism, with 100 milligrams burning an extra 75 to 100 calories a day, no long-term benefit to weight control has been demonstrated. In fact, in a study of more than 58,000 health professionals followed for 12 years, both men and women who increased their caffeine consumption gained more weight than those who didn’t.

Health Benefits:

  • Probably the most important effects of caffeine are its ability to enhance mood and mental and physical performance. At consumption levels up to 200 milligrams (the amount in about 16 ounces of ordinary brewed coffee), consumers report an improved sense of well-being, happiness, energy, alertness and sociability, although higher amounts sometimes cause anxiety and stomach upset (yep, that's me).
  • Millions of sleep-deprived Americans depend on caffeine to help them make it through their day and drive safely. The drug improves alertness and reaction time. In the sleep-deprived, it improves memory and the ability to perform complex tasks.
  • Recent disease-related findings can only add to coffee’s popularity. A review of 13 studies found that people who drank caffeinated coffee, but not decaf, had a 30 percent lower risk of Parkinson's disease.
  • Another review found that compared with noncoffee drinkers, people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, had a 28 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. This benefit probably comes from coffee’s antioxidants and chlorogenic acid.

Damn, so much for feeling better. For the rest of the article, go here.