Caffeine has had somewhat of a contentious history with health experts. However, there is some good news for the millions of people around the world who can’t part with their morning cup of coffee. Recent studies have indicated that a daily dose of java may in fact be good for you.
According to Chris Brown, Director at The Daily Buzz, a workplace chain of coffee bars in Johannesburg, “With the exception of pregnant women or people who have trouble controlling their blood pressure or blood sugar, coffee in moderation is a good, healthy beverage choice.”
Brown says, “The health effect of drinking coffee is still an active area of research. It is a highly complex substance that contains more than a thousand compounds and there are reams of scientific data on its effects. Of all the ingredients in coffee, caffeine is the most studied and has for many years been viewed negatively. However, in moderation and without too much sugar and milk, coffee has been found to have several health benefits.”
For example, caffeine can be beneficial to those who engage in strenuous physical activity or sports. According to Dr. Mike Posthumus, Senior Research Officer, MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at The University of Cape Town, “Caffeine before a workout can improve athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling. It has a significant effect on the central nervous system and most importantly, caffeine decreases your rate of exertion during exercise and delays fatigue, thereby improving your performance during exercise.”
Posthumus says, “Further benefits of caffeine include its effect on glycogen resynthesis. When caffeine is taken with carbohydrate after exercise, the rate of carbohydrate storage is significantly increased. In addition, Caffeine may increase fatty acid (fat) oxidation and thereby spare muscle glycogen.”
Over the last few years there has been more and more positive news about coffee. For example, a recent industry-funded study at Birmingham University found that coffee is not as dehydrating as we were once led to believe. In fact it may be as thirst-quenching as water.
Coffee can be an effective anti-inflammatory too as it also contains high levels of antioxidants. While these can be obtained through fruits and vegetables as well, our bodies seem to absorb the most from coffee. In addition, scientists believe that antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, could help to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Further studies have shown that coffee can benefit long-term memory and even fight liver disease.
“While the jury is still out on the health risks of caffeine, there is good evidence that drinking coffee isn’t as harmful as previously thought. In fact, with the growing stream of positive news, coffee lovers can continue to enjoy their morning cup of brew,” concludes Brown.