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Is coffee bad for you?

Posted Mar 25 2010 6:17pm

Australia’s coffee culture is booming. Recent research from Datamonitor predicts Australians will spend $800 million on coffee per year by 2013! With mixed messages about the health benefits and side effects of coffee flooding the media, I tried to get to the bottom of the “is coffee good or bad for you?” question.

First of all, let’s look at what’s actually in coffee, other than caffeine of course.
  • Chlorogenic acid – an antioxidant, slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal
  • Magnesium – helps regulate blood sugar level, keeps heart rhythm and keeps bones strong
  • Potassium - important to cellular and electrical function in the body
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - helps convert carbohydrates into sugar or glucose for energy and helps break down protein and fat
  • Trigonelline - may help to prevent dental cavities by preventing bacteria from sticking to teeth
  • Lignans - may be helpful for cancer prevention and reduction of cholesterol.
After reading lots of articles, the message seems to be that moderate consumption (3-5 cups or shots of coffee per day) is OK, and may have some health benefits such as those above as well as the possibility of a reduced risk of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes (further research still needs to be done).

The negative side effects of coffee mainly relate to the caffeine in coffee. Caffeine can cause dehydration as it’s not stored in the body therefore needs to be excreted via the urine. Too much caffeine can also lead to increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, restlessness, anxiety, depression, tremors, and sleep problems.

The message is moderate consumption is OK, don’t add sugar, and make sure you drink plenty of water to combat the dehydrating effects.

However, if you’re drinking 3-5 cappuccinos, flat whites or lattes a day, the milk content changes things completely. In my next post, I will talk about the benefits and side effects of dairy and soy.

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