Are you aware of the debates over that wonderful smelling cup of java you have in the morning? More than 50 percent of Americans drink coffee every day, up to three to four cups each, which adds up to more than 330 million cups per day. While some researchers have claimed that coffee is not good for some people (and it isn’t — especially for pregnant women), other studies show there may be some merit in that coffee pot’s ingredients.
The following list points to positive aspects about coffee and your health and the health of the environment. All links, which lead to articles that support the argument, are listed in alphabetical order within each category. Some articles also warn that coffee may harm some individuals, so be aware that all the points made below are not made-to-order for everyone. Some links will provide alternatives for those who cannot drink coffee, so enjoy (without cream and sugar, please).
Health and Well-Being
- Antioxidant Boost: Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees contain an antioxidant called trigonelline. Antioxidants are chemical compounds that fight free radicals, which, if allowed to grow, will attack our body and cause disease, most commonly cancer. Chemical analysis shows that freshly brewed coffee contains the same amount of antioxidants as three oranges.
- Prevent Cavities: While coffee can stain your teeth, a cup of java made from roasted beans has antibacterial activities against certain microorganisms, including Streptococcus mutans, a major cause of dental caries.
- Dietary Fiber: Brewed coffee contains a significantly higher amount of soluble dietary fiber than other common beverages.
- Energy Boost: Caffeine does not have specific nutritional value, but it does demonstrate medicinal properties. It is particularly helpful in keeping the mind alert and the body action-ready. In fact, the International Olympic Committee calls caffeine a powerful “ergogenic agent,” meaning it promotes the ability of muscles to work.
- Headache Buster: While people have complained of caffeine-withdrawal headaches, other people swear by caffeine to eliminate migraine headaches. Cafergot, a mixture of ergotamine tartrate and caffeine, is used to treat or prevent vascular headaches such as migraine and cluster headaches. Side effects, however, may be serious for some.
- Weight Loss: Harvard School of Public Health in Boston doesn’t say you’ll lose weight by drinking coffee, but you will gain weight if you continue to spike that coffee with cream, whipped cream, chocolate and more additives. Black coffee contains caffeine, which is an appetite suppressant, it may stimulate thermogensis (body generating heat from food digestion) and it is a diuretic — but diet and exercise are better weight-loss tools.
- Pain Killer: Two cups of brewed coffee may reduce post-exercise muscle pain by up to forty-eight percent.
- Reduce Suicide Risk: A ten-year study of 86,000 female nurses showed a strong link between coffee intake and lower suicide risk.
- Increases Sexual Drive (Rats): Scientists from Southwestern University found caffeine increased the female libido in experiments on rats. Further research is needed before anyone knows whether it works as a sexual stimulant on humans.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: A case-control study was used with 54 patients with probable AD fulfilling the National Institute of Neurologic and Communicative Disorders and Stroke and the AD and Related Disorders Association criteria, and caffeine intake was associated with a significantly lower risk for AD (independently of other possible confounding variables).
- Bladder Cancer (Smokers): A study published in the January 2001 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community suggested that non-coffee drinking smokers were seven times more likely to develop bladder cancer as non-smokers. Coffee-drinking smokers were only three times more at risk.
- Cirrhosis of the Liver (Alcoholic Drinkers): A study published in 2008 showed — out of 125,000 coffee drinkers — that one cup of coffee per day cut the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver by twenty percent. Four cups per day reduced the risk by eighty percent.
- Colon Cancer:
- Diabetes: In a report that combined statistical data from many studies, researchers found that people who drank four to six cups of coffee a day had a 28 percent reduced risk compared with people who drank two or fewer. Those who drank more than six had a 35 percent risk reduction.
- Gallstones: Men who drink at least 2 cups of coffee a day may reduce their risk of developing gallstones by 40 percent, and women showed a twenty-five percent lower risk of gallstone development.
- Gout (Men): Men who drink four or more cups of coffee per day reduce their chance of developing gout by 59 percent.
- Heart Disease (women): Out of 27,312 postmenopausal women who took part in an Iowa Women’s Health study, the women who reported drinking one to three daily cups of coffee at the study’s start were 24 percent less likely to die of heart disease during the study, compared with those who didn’t drink coffee.
- Ovarian Cancer: A study found that caffeine may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in women by a fifth. The risk is even less for women who do not take the Pill or do not use hormone replacement therapy.
- Parkinson’s Disease: At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
- Stroke: In an observational study, scientists at UCLA discovered that of people who reported drinking one to two cups of coffee per day, five percent reported a history of stroke, compared to three and one-half percent of people who reported drinking three to five daily cups of coffee and about three percent of people who said they drink six or more cups of coffee per day.
- Biofuel Source: Coffee grounds — currently wasted or used as garden compost (see below) — could become a cheap and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel and fuel pellets, says a study from SciDev.Net, a member of the Guardian Environment Network. Scientists at the US-based University of Nevada, Reno, used an inexpensive process to extract oil from the leftovers of making espressos, cappuccinos and other coffee preparations from a multinational coffeehouse chain. This oil was then converted into biodiesel, which could be used to fuel cars and trucks.
- Cleaning Grounds: Coffee grounds are abrasive and acidic, providing them with an edge in cleaning pots, pans and stainless steel sinks. Plus, rinsing coffee grounds down the drain can help eliminate drain odors.
- Great for Mushrooms: Mushroom expert Paul Stamets discovered that oyster mushrooms grow great in coffee grounds. Once you’re through with the coffee grounds, go to #24.
- Natural Fertilizer: When coffee grounds to into the landfill, they create methane, a greenhouse gas. But, if you take those grounds and mix them with a little soil, you can produce a healthy fertilizer and/or compost for your home garden that worms love. And, a healthy garden loves worms.
- Repel Slugs: Don’t use chemicals, which can harm other wildlife and humans, to eliminate slugs in your garden. Instead, use coffee grounds sprinkled around on the ground. Caffeine has been found to be more effective than the chemical metaldehyde in killing slugs.