RVNA Today: The scoop on coffee

Many people enjoy coffee on a daily basis, and new evidence continues to associate coffee with health benefits, such as a reduced risk of an early death. Coffee comes from the seeds (beans) of cherries that grow on the coffee tree. Pouring hot water over dried, roasted and ground coffee beans produces the tasty beverage. In the United States, 54% of those 18 and older drink it daily. In addition to being flavorful, the beans contain small amounts of magnesium, potassium and niacin. They also contain caffeine, which can reduce fatigue and improve alertness and concentration. The most significant benefit of coffee beans is that they’re loaded with potent compounds such as chlorogenic acid and polyphenols that have antioxidant properties that help prevent cell damage.

Researchers believe the combination of compounds may delay the absorption of blood sugar, help cells draw sugar from the blood, increase metabolic rate, and help blood vessels contract and relax. This may be why coffee is associated with lower blood pressure, slower rate of weight gain and reduced risk for developing type 2 diabetes or dying from cardiovascular or neurological diseases. The greatest benefit is seen in the areas of diabetes and obesity. Health benefits are associated with a daily intake of one to five cups, and for the most part, it doesn’t matter whether the coffee is caffeinated or not. For some, too much caffeine causes insomnia, nervousness and jitters and can raise blood pressure, but that effect goes away when you stop consuming it. The biggest risks of coffee come from what you add to it, cream, sugar and syrups. These add saturated fats and empty calories to your diet. To keep your coffee habit at a safe level, stick to no more than five cups per day.