Calling All Coffee Connoisseurs

I’m a pretty big coffee drinker, especially during long work days (which have been frequenting my schedule more often than not recently).  I’ve tried many different kinds of coffee, which has led me to discover my passionate love for a warm cup of French Vanilla… but my coffee habits have also led me to wonder, is drinking coffee good for you?  Is it bad?  What is an adequate amount of coffee to drink each day, or each week?  So I’ve decided to take a look into all of these questions, and more, to figure out the pros and cons of drinking that cup o’ joe… And considering American consumes over 400 million cups of coffee every day, I’d highly advise you to take some of this into consideration!

I’m a big fan of ending on a happy note, so let’s first take a look at the “cons” of drinking coffee, and then we’ll get into all of its benefits.  To start off, if you are a person with high cholesterol or have a history of high cholesterol in your family, you should definitely keep a watchful eye on the type of coffee you drink.  Coffee can raise cholesterol levels, but only if you are drinking a lot of unfiltered coffee- such as espresso’s and lattes.  If you are trying to watch your cholesterol, drink filtered coffee so that the paper filters can catch the two substances that can be harmful to your cholesterol levels: kahweol and cafestol.  Cafestol and kahweol are fat-soluble compounds known as diterpenes, which are present in the oil derived from coffee beans.  They can have an effect on a series of enzymes in the liver and elicit a number of unhealthy changes in the blood of regular coffee drinkers.  Long story short, stick to filtered coffee!  It’s healthier and also much cheaper.

Next, the obvious element of caffeine always comes with setbacks.  First and foremost, it’s an addictive stimulant!  Even people who drink one cup of coffee per day can go through withdrawals if they try to cut it out… So, if you drink coffee on the reg, please be conscious of how much you’re drinking and try to choose an alternative to coffee on certain days.  I know that a tall glass of water sounds boring, but it’s SO much better for you!  Try and make a shift towards water being your most consumed drink, and allow yourself to have coffee either as a reward on certain days or when you feel like you really need it (and no, you don’t NEED it every day… have some self-control).  Because caffeine is so addictive, withdrawals can have some pretty nasty symptoms like fatigue, irritability, headaches, jitters, insomnia, and mood swings.  None of that sounds fun, so do your best to not let it get to this point!  Also, since caffeine can give you an energy boost and increased attentiveness, it can also lead to increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.  If you or your family has a history of heart problems or high blood pressure, this is a serious no-no.  Sure, everyone drinks caffeine to get an extra boost, but you’d be surprised how quickly it could affect your heart and blood pressure.  Be very cautious, and try to maintain your energy using other methods like working out regularly and getting adequate sleep.

Other evident “cons” of drinking coffee: stains your teeth (ew), messes up your sleep pattern (effects of caffeine linger in your body for 12 hours), and can lead to weight gain (eek)!  It is not so much the coffee itself that will cause individuals to gain weight, but more so the additives that people use in their coffee.  Added sugar is obviously not that great for you and milk/creamer are even worse!  If these are concerns for you, then you may want to think twice before you decide to have your next cup of coffee.  No fashionista should stand for her clothes getting too tight because of coffee habits… and if this does happen, fix it.

Now that I’ve scared you a little, it’s time to relieve some of the negativity.  There are actually a lot of pros to drinking coffee as well!  First, coffee can act as an antidepressant… pretty cool, huh??  I hope that all of you are happy people, but if a natural antidepressant sounds like something you might need, then get ready for happier spirits.  Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and acts as an antidepressant by elevating serotonin and dopamine.  Serotonin is known to contribute to feelings of well-being and happiness.  Dopamine causes humans to pay attention to stimuli that are potentially rewarding, equaling satisfaction and pleasing outcomes.  There is even evidence that it can lower suicide rates.  If you need a pick-me-up, coffee is a great option and obviously extremely safe for you.

Some amazing health benefits of drinking coffee include its PROTECTION against sickness, health issues, and disease.  Coffee decreases the risk of diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, heart disease, and cancer!  Coffee is particularly known for lowering the risk of cancer in men (sorry girls).  So guys don’t be shy about enjoying that cup of coffee- it can actually help protect your health!  Also, if your family has a history of diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, stroke, or heart disease, then coffee could be your defense against any or all of these issues.  Coffee is also high in healthy antioxidants.  These compounds are the same elements found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, red wine, and chocolate.  High levels of antioxidants in your diet are associated with a wealth of health benefits ranging from immunity boosting effects to protection from cancer and other serious diseases… I’m down to drink coffee to get all those healthy antioxidants for my body!

All in all, there are obvious concerns but also obvious benefits to drinking coffee.  After taking it all into consideration, my best advice would be FIRST to drink homemade coffee.  Starbucks is good, yes, but it’s not nearly as healthy and it’s also fairly expensive, considering how much you would spend in comparison for a homemade pot of coffee.  Next, be very careful with your additives.  Even I like to enjoy my little bit cream and sugar, but if you are noticing some weight gain then try and cut down.  Your health is very important.  So go ahead and let coffee be your guardian in a cup against some major health issues, but don’t let it weigh you down or affect your sleep patterns or cholesterol levels!  Finally, drink coffee in moderation.  Be able to CHOOSE whether or not you have a cup of coffee that day, instead of feeling like you need it.  Once you find that good balance, enjoy your beverage hot or over ice!

P.S. – adding cinnamon can increase your metabolism too :) drink happy!

Written By: Christine Kunz

Photo Sources:
http://www.planet-coffee.net/images/coffee_planet.jpg
http://www.coffee-cereal.com/images/coffee2.jpg
http://www.wallpaper4me.com/images/wallpapers/coffeebeancoffee-565800.jpeg

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