If you thought your favourite cup of coffee was unhealthy,think again.Urban India has only recently acquired a taste of coffee,even though it has been the more popular beverage in South India for decades.
But,despite the its growing popularity,many believe coffee to be a toxic addiction of sorts,taken only as an indulgence or to overcome sleep. Several health concerns have been attributed to drinking coffee,including its addictive nature,ill-effects on digestion,bone health,cardiovascular health,disturbed sleep,high blood pressure,infertility and increased incidence in pancreatic or bladder cancer.
However,numerous studies now reveal that coffee consumption and caffeine do not contribute to cardiovascular diseases even in people who drink more than four cups a day. Though,coffee does cause a transient increase in blood pressure,moderate coffee drinking does not pose a significant risk to hypertensives.
In fact,a recent study reports that coffee is a major source of dietary antioxidants and may inhibit inflammation,thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases and other inflammatory diseases in post-menopausal women. Researchers have also found no link between coffee consumption and cancers of bladder,breast,colon,lung,pancreas and prostrate. Preliminary studies also suggest that coffee plays a protective role in liver cirrhosis.
Studies have also shown that regular coffee consumption over long periods of time may reduce the risk of developing Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease.
In fact,a study on elderly persons revealed that coffee helped older people think better,improve their memory and reasoning skills.
Caffeine may have a beneficial effect on weight loss as it has been shown to increase energy expenditure modestly. Being a natural stimulant,caffeine may positively affect athletic performance. In one well-controlled study,subjects who ingested a high caffeine load one hour before exercise used less muscle glycogen and increased their endurance. However,there are no recommendations to use it as an ergogenic aid,as it is a diuretic and may aggravate loss of fluids.
However,drinking coffee raises a few concerns. Cafestol and kahweol,compounds in boiled/steeped coffee can boost cholesterol synthesis by the liver. These are found in highest concentrations in Scandinavian,Turkish coffees and French-press brews. These compounds are trapped during filtration. So,next time you go for a cup,do it guilt-free and stay alert. It can be enjoyed if consumed in moderation.
* Major source of dietary antioxidants,may inhibit inflammation and lower risk of inflammatory diseases in post-menopausal women
* Regular consumption over long periods of time may reduce the risk of Parkinsons disease and Alzheimers disease.
* Caffeine may have a beneficial effect on weight loss as it increases energy expenditure
* Being a natural stimulant,caffeine may positively affect athletic performance
* Coffee is addictive and even a single cup a day can create the risk of withdrawal
* For pregnant women,coffee consumption linked to risk of miscarriages
* Caffeine is a diuretic,which increases output of urine a concern for men with prostrate problems. May interfere with sleeping pattern
* Cafestol and kahweol,compounds in boiled/steeped coffee can boost cholesterol synthesis by the liver
Ishi khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being,one should integrate physical,mental and spiritual health. According to her: To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.
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