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Coffee facts and heart disease

Are the effects of caffeine a benefit or a risk? Is there such a thing as healthy coffee?

If you enjoy a great cup of coffee, you may be wondering about its relationship with heart health. In recent decades, there have been many studies examining the effects of caffeine, whether it's good or bad for you, and efforts to determine what's "too much coffee."

Generally speaking, research shows that in moderation (a few cups a day) it's a safe beverage that may even offer some health benefits for the millions of North Americans who enjoy it. Harvard scientists say coffee has been shown to be safe even for heart attack survivors.

Benefits

  • may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • may reduce the risk of gallstones
  • may discourage the development of colon cancer
  • may improve cognitive function
  • may reduce the risk of liver damage in people at high risk for liver disease
  • may reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease
  • may improve performance in endurance athletes

Coffee beans contain antioxidants, some of which become especially potent during the roasting process. Antioxidants are widely regarded as beneficial in helping prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Scientists think antioxidants in coffee may reduce inflammation and protect blood vessel walls.

An interesting note - Italian researchers credit another compound called trigonelline, which accounts for its aroma and taste, for having antibacterial properties that can help prevent dental cavities. On the flip side, while it may protect your teeth from cavities, it stains and discolors them too.

Risks

The main ingredient, caffeine, is a mild addictive stimulant. Too much may cause nervousness, the jitters, or trembling in some people. And, caffeine does have modest cardiovascular effects such as increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and occasional irregular heartbeat. Too much can even raise cholesterol levels, so experts stress moderation.

But most recent large studies show no significant adverse effects for the majority of people, although some heart patients may be advised to limit or avoid its consumption.

Some considerations for smart heart living:

  • Enjoy in moderation!
  • Caffeine raises your blood pressure, so if you are going to drink a lot of it, choose decaf. The antioxidant benefits are the same in regular and decaf.
  • Choose filtered over percolated or boiled as there is some evidence that compounds in unfiltered coffee may raise cholesterol.
  • My personal choice is to use fair trade, organic, home roastedbeans to reduce my exposure to chemical fertilizers and pesticides (plus it tastes better!)
  • If at all possible avoid adding sugar.
  • In choosing to drink caffeine, go by how your body reacts. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.

The amount of caffeine varies depending on the variety of the plant and how the beans are roasted. That's why I prefer organic, home roasted beans - but not everyone is willing to go to that effort. So instead, find a good source of high quality beans that you can trust.

Interested in brewing the perfect cup? Check out this!

Nutrition
More and more research points to nutrition as the basis for good health and the cause of so much disease.

We believe we've been fed a lot of bad information about what's good for us and what's not.

We can't tell you what to eat, just make the strong suggestion that you do your own research, learn how politics, personal agendas and big business has created the climate that's lead to our sky rocketing rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases.