By Thomas Cazneau
I’m a coffee connoisseur of sorts. I consume about three cups a day. Heaven forbid I miss a cup. It would be like skipping a meal. Chances are, you are probably not much different. According to E-Imports, an online coffee expert, half of the American population drinks coffee and those who do, average a little over three cups each day. CoffeeStatistics.com adds that in 2011, America consumed 400 million cups of coffee a day; that is equivalent to 145 billion cups a year. With this daily devotion to caffeine, it is probably best to skim the surface of the health benefits and risks related to caffeine. I like to call these the “thrills and spills” of coffee drinking.
In general, drinking coffee can improve a person’s health in two ways: Antioxidants and Caffeine.
• Antioxidants help your body repair damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are molecules that are very unstable and seek to bond to other molecules to increase their stability.
• Caffeine has been shown to help improve age-related brain problems, like Parkinson’s and dementia. Also, it is often used to relieve headaches and asthma.
Various health studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of many life threatening diseases and conditions, such as diabetes and cirrhosis. Additionally, it can be used to help with gallstone-related issues, and to increase short term memory recall. Some doctors have even prescribed coffee to children struggling with A.D.D. (‘attention deficit disorder’) to help them focus more easily in school.
The Spills of Caffeine
Coffee is not without its spills, or drawbacks. Drinking coffee does not necessarily present a health risk; it is the amount of caffeine a person drinks that could initiate health problems. Most of us would likely agree that if someone drinks too much coffee, they can experience restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness. The more serious risks of coffee include cancer and heightened blood pressure. Some research suggests that caffeine can contribute to heart disease, and in rare cases, it can potentially result in death if taken in massive amounts.
Of the 1,000 chemicals reported in roasted coffee, 19 are rodent carcinogens, an agent that is directly involved in causing cancer. This is why you may see signs at Starbucks and other cafes, acknowledging the risk anyone takes when drinking coffee.
Friend or Foe?
In college, coffee has a prime chance to becoming a student’s best friend. Many students use coffee and energy drinks to stay up and finish last minute term papers or test studying. These caffeinated efforts improve a person’s study habits and test-taking abilities. Though commendable, they can lead to sleep deprivation, increasing a student’s susceptibility to sickness. With the overall pressure to achieve life-defining degrees and transfer-required grades, is it any wonder why many coffee addictions start in college?
I, myself, love to drink coffee. Whether it’s a latte, espresso, or frappucino, I’m in! Everyone has their own preference when it comes to coffee drinking, so from one coffee lover to another, just drink responsibly. Cheers!
For more information on the health benefits and drawbacks of caffeine, see this article, “Coffee and Your Health”.