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Coffee - The Newest Health Craze?

Aug 18, 2007
When you think of immune-boosting antioxidants or a diabetes-fighting diet, coffee probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But, coffee is actually the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet and a proven factor in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to a 2005 study at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, the average adult drinking 1-2 cups of coffee a day takes in almost 1300 milligrams of coffee-derived antioxidants daily. Antioxidants are believed to help reduce the risk of heart disease, boost the immune system, fight cancer and, according to the National Cancer Institute, work to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, though these results have not been confirmed in humans.

Essentially, antioxidants are beneficial essential chemicals that are abundant in foods like grains, berries, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables. There are a wide variety of antioxidants that differ from food source to food source, but the antioxidants found in coffee specifically are called polyphenols. Polyphenols are believed to be instrumental in battling oxidative stress, a factor connected to neurodegenerative diseases and some cardiovascular conditions.

In addition to boosting immunity, coffee has been shown to lower the risk of diabetes. In 2004, a study at the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that regular coffee drinking reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

Out of 125,000 participants, men who reported drinking more than 6 cups of coffee a day lowered their diabetes risk by almost half, while women showed a risk reduction of close to 30 percent when compared to participants who didn't drink coffee. Though researches still don't know exactly why coffee is beneficial, they expect that caffeine's ability to increase blood sugar and boost energy use may play a part alongside the popular beverage's antioxidant content. Despite the diabetes benefits, drinking that much coffee per day can have other negative health effects, especially for those who should avoid caffeine.

Despite the health benefits, remember that caffeine is a mildly addictive stimulant, one that can increase the heart rate and raise blood pressure. Natural, or not, too much coffee can over stimulate and cause problems. Like most things, coffee should be enjoyed in moderation. But in moderate quantities, coffee can be very good for you, and a great help to your overall health and well being.
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