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Coffee: Villain or Hero?

We’ll let you decide on which side coffee should be on

Coffee_Cartoon

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According to the International Coffee Organisation, 149.2 million bags (60kg bag) of coffee were consumed in 2014. As per capita consumption of coffee in 2013, the Netherlands occupy the top spot, while New Zealand ranks 15th. You can just imagine the amount of coffee being produced and consumed on a global scale. And yet… health authorities have yet to decide whether coffee is a villain or hero.

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Through the years, the status of coffee and its main ingredient, caffeine, has shifted between positive and negative sides with respect to our health. It has at times been so confusing that you may have settled for decaffeinated coffee (Heaven forbid!). We’ll keep the facts short and simple for you so you can decide for yourself.

The PROS


  • Coffee-beansRich in antioxidants. Data from recent studies have concluded that coffee isn’t harmful to your health. It’s a potent source of antioxidants. Experts have identified more than 1,000 antioxidants in coffee beans (unprocessed). Antioxidants are, of course, responsible for battling inflammation. Inflammation causes many chronic conditions like arthritis, cancer and atherosclerosis.

    Coffee also contains chlorogenic acid. It’s an essential antioxidant found almost exclusively in your coffee and viewed as an aid in preventing heart disease.

  • Short-term memory booster. Researchers have discovered that people who drank coffee had more brain activity while doing a memory test compared to people who didn’t drink coffee (placebo). They also found that the group who drank coffee had faster reaction time (more alert).

  • Coffee lowers your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. A remarkable Dutch study discovered that people who drank coffee moderately (2 to 4 cups per day) had a 20 percent drop in their chances of developing heart disease compared to non-drinkers, light or heavy coffee drinkers.

  • Coffee can protect you from certain cancers. Coffee lowers your risk of developing prostate, endometrial, liver, colorectal and breast cancers.

  • Coffee lowers your chances of acquiring diabetes mellitus type 2. Because of its antioxidant content, coffee fights inflammation, which is a major contributor to the start of diabetes.

  • Exercise enhancer. If you’ve had a long day and you still have to go to the gym, try having a coffee. It’s great for improving your performance and endurance. It increases the breakdown of fats (lipolysis), providing you with a steady source of fuel.

  • Coffee and conversations. Coffee is one of the oldest beverages in the world. It’s almost always tied to long conversations, serious or casual, and distinct memories which revive your emotions.

    Coffee-and-conversations
  • Coffee keeps you happy. No, it’s not because of bringing up happy memories. Coffee promotes the release of serotonin and dopamine which do a lot to control your mood. The trick is not to become addicted to this added bonus of caffeine.
    Cup-of-espresso

The CONS


  • The adverse effects of coffee primarily stem from excess intake. More coffee doesn’t necessarily mean better health. A chunk of the general population who consume coffee on a daily basis report that it makes them irritable, nervous and anxious when consumed in increased amounts (more than 4 cups per day). It can ride your sympathetic nervous system to near exhaustion. It’s that part of your central nervous system which tells you to fight or flee a stressful situation.

  • People who have insomnia shouldn’t drink coffee. It will drastically affect the quality of their sleep, which can obviously lead to other health issues and affect many areas of your life.

  • Coffee increases your blood pressure…in the short-term. Studies have confirmed that coffee transiently elevates blood pressure among people with normal blood pressures (normotensive). On the bright side, no convincing studies have established that the effect can be long-term.

  • Coffee and withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine is a psychoactive drug which means it can be addictive. Don’t suddenly stop your coffee intake, taper off it gradually. Withdrawal symptoms include muscle aches, headaches and fatigue which can take days to disappear.

  • Coffee is dehydrating due to its diuretic action. This is quite a negative aspect from drinking coffee as many people do not compensate by drinking adequate water in order to replenish the fluids they lose from every cup.

  • Poor quality coffee can contain harmful pesticide residues.


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How to Get the Best from Your Coffee – Maximise the Good Effects while Minimising the Bad Ones


  • Coffee has different effects on people. Assess your tolerance and go from there.
    If you’re new to coffee it goes without saying that you should start with one cup per day or even less. If you’re a regular and need more throughout your day, carefully assess your tolerance. Nutrition experts advise keeping your intake between 2 to 4 cups per day (between 200mg to 400mg of caffeine per day).

  • bottom-rightMake sure you drink good quality organic coffee and avoid those 3-in-1s at the office.

  • Use stevia or xylitol to sweeten up your coffee. No table sugar.

There you have it folks. We think it’s crystal clear what the verdict is when it comes to drinking coffee. It’s best to assess your tolerance first. Listen to your body, it will tell you. Moderation is the key, same as with most other controversial substances out there. Coffee and its main ingredient, caffeine aren’t inherently villains. You can turn them into heroes. It basically depends on how much you consume.


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