I have been drinking coffee for over 40 years. I began sucking down the hot stuff when I worked off Wall Street when I was 18. Since then I have had it with cream and without - but I have always scooped a few spoons of sugar into the mug. These days I leave out the cream and save it for the occasional caffè latte.
So I was intrigued recently by an article in the Kansas Star titled "The many health perks of coffee". The piece highlights the musings about coffee by cardiologist James O’Keefe, a doc who specializes in heart disease prevention. Here are a few benefits that he sees for those of us who drink the dark stuff:
- Moderate weight reduction. That’s due to the metabolic boost, plus a lot of people drink coffee as a substitute for beverages with calories. “A big part of what I like about coffee is it has no calories,” O’Keefe says. “Clearly, the increased consumption of sugary and high-calorie beverages is playing a major role in the obesity epidemic.”
- Prevention or delay of Type 2 diabetes. Coffee-drinking, even fewer than two cups a day, was associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, and four to six cups a day resulted in a “significantly reduced” risk. Decaffeinated coffee offered some risk reduction.
It could be the chlorogenic acid in coffee that’s responsible for improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, O’Keefe says. (Better insulin sensitivity means lower blood sugar levels.)
- Lower risk of several neurological problems, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, dementia and depression. In several studies tracking neurologic effects, caffeine in coffee seemed to be one of the important ingredients. Increased caffeine was related to lower Parkinson’s risk. Three to five cups of coffee a day for middle-aged study participants was associated with a 65 percent decrease in the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Authors of a recent study of more than 50,000 women concluded that the risk of depression decreased with an increase in caffeinated coffee drinking. “This is the scientific data that’s the most compelling and fascinating to me,” O’Keefe says.