We all remember the saying “ an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Such a maxim promotes healthy eating and encourages people to add fruits to their daily intake of food . But is a cup of coffee also good for health?
Coffee is an international beverage consumed by millions of people around the world. The origin of coffee beans is said to be in Ethiopia (some say Yemen) where legend has it that a goat herder noticed his goats became energetic after eating certain berries. He took the berries to the local monks who made a drink from it that made them more alert when praying. Since that time coffee has become the drink of the poor and the rich around the world.
For many people, drinking coffee represents a ritual that varies from culture to culture , starting from buying the beans then roasting , grinding and making of coffee then serving it with or without sugar. For some cultures offering coffee to someone is the first sign of hospitality and refusing it may be considered an affront to the host.
From a health point of view, several studies produced controversial results with some studies focusing on the bad effects of “too much coffee” such as anxiety, poor sleep, high blood pressure, increased heart beats and indigestion.
According to scientific data, coffee can be good for you because the beans contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can prevent some diseases. Coffee also improves your mood, keeps you alert and boosts your concentration. This is why motorists are advised to stop for a coffee break when driving for long distances as this prevents them from falling asleep at the wheel.
Coffee can also help in weight loss as it boosts body metabolism and increases exercise performance. More recent studies reported that coffee can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. While a study from Harvard university showed people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were less likely to commit suicide.
So, what can we do to maximise the health benefits of coffee?
The first step is to avoid adding sugar since that means extra calories. Secondly, drink coffee that is brewed with a paper filter instead of the instant coffee, Turkish or French press as these are reported to increase cholesterol levels.
If you have anxiety or high blood pressure or disturbed sleep then you should limit your coffee intake as decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine.
For people aged 65 and above coffee can cause more sleep disturbance. They should limit coffee intake to the morning time. Taking coffee in the evening can also disturb one's sleep as there chances of excessive urination in the night.
Finally, remember drinking coffee in moderation will make its benefits outweigh its harm.