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Coffee good for you...?

For many, coffee is a daily habit, even an addiction. For others, it is a guilty pleasure. But some new research suggests that coffee often gets a bad rap, and that coffee drinkers have no need to be ashamed.

 

"Coffee has been blamed for everything from indigestion to cancer, but almost everything people think about coffee is wrong. It's actually one of the healthiest beverages we can consume" says Dr. Roseane M. Santos.

Santos runs a research team focused on coffee and health. And while many health experts now advise drinking a glass of red wine each day, Santos would recommend drinking coffee as well. And Santos is not alone in thinking that coffee can be healthy. But some health experts have been slow to warm up to its beneficial effects.

Why don't more experts recommend coffee? It probably stems from the fact that for decades, people have focused on one component of coffee - caffeine. But coffee is much more than a steaming cup of get-up-and-go. It contains important minerals such as potassium, iron and zinc, and an abundance of natural antioxidants known as chlorogenic acids.

"The age- and cancer-fighting qualities of antioxidants are well known to the health-conscious," explains Santos. "But what is less well known is the importance of getting antioxidants from natural sources: fruits, vegetables and coffee. The coffee bean is, after all, a fruit."

Much like the health benefits of red wine have been separated from the detrimental effects of excessive alcohol, coffee and caffeine are beginning to be understood independent of one another. The truth is that adults will not see any negative effects from caffeine - and will get all the healthy benefits of coffee - as long as they limit their intake to three to four cups of regular coffee per day.

Santos does raise one warning to those who would turn to coffee as a health drink. The blacker your ground coffee is, the less healthy it is. The reason is that when coffee is roasted for too long, there is not much left but caffeine. Most of the nutrients have been chemically altered by the roasting process.

As for indigestion, " There is no evidence that coffee causes gastric problems,some people may be intolerant of coffee or caffeine, just as some people are intolerant of hot pepper sauce or dairy products. But daily coffee intake cannot be considered responsible for the onset of gastric ulcers or gastritis in healthy people."

And cancer? There was a scare in the early 1980s when a study initially tied coffee to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. But follow-up research determined that smoking, not coffee, was the real cause.

So grab that cup of coffee and sip to your health. There's no need to be ashamed anymore.