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Coffee: More Than Just One of Life’s Little Pleasures


Coffee may provide many health benefits

Drinking coffee is on my list of healthy things I do for myself. For most of my life, I was not much of a coffee drinker. However, the potential health benefits from drinking the black brew caught my attention. I began drinking it after reading compelling research showing that coffee seems to protect the liver. After failing two rounds of hepatitis C treatment, I needed to protect my hepatocytes until better medications were available. Drinking caffeinated brew while avoiding alcohol were two habits I practiced, along with following a healthy diet and daily exercise.

Science has since added to the list of benefits that drinking a moderate amount of coffee may give us. Generally, a moderate amount of coffee is 3 to 5 cups daily. I am referring to 8 ounces of straight black coffee, not a 20 ounce creamy, sugary blended espresso concoction. Yes to espresso; no to sugar and fat.

Here are some of the good things that drinking coffee may do:

  • May improve brain performance and reduce risk of dementia
  • Associated with reduced risk of stroke and heart disease
  • Lower risk of liver cancer
  • Decrease the risk of Parkinson’s and type-2 diabetes
  • May reduce inflammation
  • Studies show other possible benefits of coffee, but the research is not as convincing.

Is there a downside to drinking coffee? If drinking moderate amounts, generally, no. However, caffeine may trigger migraines and other types of headaches. Consumed late in the day, coffee may cause insomnia. For years, experts made much of caffeine’s diuretic effects. We now know that coffee is a mild diuretic, so mild that it won’t dehydrate you. Plus, the water in coffee provides hydration.

The bottom line: If you drink no more than 3 to 5 cups of coffee daily, enjoy every drop. It won’t hurt you, and it may improve your health. Just be sure to not undo those health benefits by adding sugar and cream to that cup of joe.

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