cup of coffee and beansPeople have loved their coffee for centuries. Today coffee is grown in a multitude of countries around the world. Whether it is Asia or Africa, Central or South America, the islands of the Caribbean or Pacific, all can trace their heritage to the trees in the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau.

A cup of coffee in the morning may pack more  than just an energy boost. More and more research is emerging to suggest that there may be several health benefits associated with drinking this dark black beverage, from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.

Potential Health Benefits of Coffee

The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.

Coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes - Coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) gathered data from three studies. In these studies, the diets of the participants were evaluated using questionnaires every 4 years, with participants who reported having type 2 diabetes filling out additional questionnaires. In total, 7,269 study participants had type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that the participants who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day (on average, an increase of 1.69 cups per day) over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk over the subsequent 4 years, compared with people who did not change their intake.

Coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease - Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease.”  In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.

Coffee may lower the risk of liver cancer - Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.7

Coffee may help prevent liver disease - Regular consumption of coffee is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver.  In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA.

Coffee may be good for the heart - Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure. They defined ‘in moderation’ as 2 European cups (equivalent to two 8-ounce American servings) per day.

What Makes Coffee Healthy

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants — nutrients that help prevent tissue damage caused by molecules called oxygen-free radicals. Coffee has a very strong antioxidant capacity.  In fact, Americans get the majority of their antioxidants from drinking coffee.

Coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively.  And coffee is low in calories.  An 8 oz. cup of black coffee has only 2 calories.

So the next time you are enjoying your morning cup of java, remember that you may be loving it for all the wrong reasons.


(A fun look at the) 7 Benefits of Coffee

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