Coffee, it would seem, is really good for you. Except when it isn’t.
I got to thinking about this last night when I was reading an article in Outside magazine that was talking about a study on coffee. For years, some athletes and trainers have insisted that the diuretic properties of coffee can lead to dehydration before a workout. I never let this deter me, as I would be a mess if I tried to ride a mountain bike trail in the morning without the benefits of caffeine on my reflexes.
Now, a study has come out that says it’s OK to have some coffee before a workout; coffee is no more of a diuretic than water. So coffee is good for you.
While there have been several studies done that show caffeine is a mild diuretic, there is no evidence that exercise, when combined with the consumption of caffeine or caffeinated beverages, will result in chronic dehydration, and this is contrary to the advice of most exercise physiologists, physicians and dietitians.
Unless you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnant, drinking more than three cups a day can double your risk of miscarriage. So coffee is bad for you, especially for women.
The results seem to show an increased risk of foetal death from increased coffee consumption in pregnancy. Pregnant women may want to review the amount of coffee they drink.
Unless you’re a women who worries about high blood pressure. Studies now show that women who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are less likely to develop high blood pressure than women who don’t. Coffee is good for you, especially for women.
There was even some evidence [that] women who drank lots of coffee - four or more daily cups of regular or decaf - faced a slightly lower risk for developing high blood pressure than those who drank little or none.
Unless you drink decaf. Apparently, it’s not the caffeine that’s bad for you. Drinking decaf can lead to a rise in harmful cholesterol, and cause heart disease. So, coffee is bad for you, especially if you drink decaf.
Contrary to what people have thought for many years, I believe it's not caffeinated but decaffeinated coffee that might promote heart disease risk factors.
Unless you want to boost anti-oxidants. Studies are now showing that all coffee, including decaf, is our number one source of anti-oxidants, which can fight cancer and diabetes. It’s not necessarily the best source, but it is high enough in anti-oxidants that it’s where we get most of ours. So coffee is good for you.
All coffee, whether a shot of espresso, a paper cup of Colombian laced with half-and-half, or an after-dinner decaf, is rich in anti-oxidants, which are also found in vegetables, fruits, tea and red wine.
What gives? Coffee, like alcohol, has been praised and vilified by various scientific studies forever. Why can’t we make up our mind?
Is it economic? It could be; coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world, after oil. Over six million metric tons of coffee are produced each year. If it was truly found to be bad, it could be devastating to the industry. I mean, look how everyone quit smoking when it was discovered to bad, and the way we all stopped driving when we realized how we were polluting the environment.
Is it the fun police? Hot coffee was created by the Arabs in 1,000AD. When it reached Rome, the Catholic Church denounced it as the devil’s drink, Satan’s gift to the Moslem infidels. It wasn’t until Pope Clement VIII tasted coffee in the late 1500’s that it was decided to be too good to be bad. The Pope blessed the coffee, and it was then approved. Perhaps bastions of Christianity still frown upon coffee, and would like to cleanse their congregations of it. Stranger things have happened.
Regardless of the reasons, and regardless of whether coffee is good or bad for you, one thing is true; coffee tastes good. It makes me feel good. I have a cup every morning during the week, and half a pot each morning on the weekend. This won’t stop, regardless of what the next new study says.
In fact, all this talk of coffee makes me want to go find another cup right now.
The fun facts on the history of coffee came from here.