Is Coffee Good or Bad?

As someone who has been reluctant to commit to caffeine addiction, powering through rough mornings and struggling to stay alert has always felt like a normal struggle for me. But lately, on early mornings after a long commute, the coffee machine in the office kitchen starts to look tempting to me. In seeking to justify a cup (or two), I began researching what the benefits are in drinking coffee. I quickly found that according to recent studies, the health benefits of coffee might actually offset the risks.

Your heart

Coffee reduces the risk of dying from heart disease, but metal filters are said to raise cholesterol. Between 1986 and 1998, Harvard researchers discovered that long-term coffee drinkers had a significantly reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Statistics indicated the risk decreased the more they drank. Just be sure to limit your sugar! The caffeine in coffee, however, is said to increase blood sugar levels, making it more difficult for those already with type-2 diabetes to manage their insulin.

Cancer free

Although most of us know that coffee can stain your teeth and dry out your mouth, a 2011 study found that drinking caffeinated coffee lowers the risk of oral cancers. Another study in the journal Cancer Research found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of basal cell carcinoma, making coffee a great preventative measure for skin protection! Coffee also reduces the risk for cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Brain food!

Drinking coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia while improving long-term cognition and lowering the risk of stroke.

Coffee consumption has shown an increased irritation in subjects with existing gastritis, colitis, or ulcers. Other health risks include increased risk of miscarriage and an arguably higher risk of pancreatic cancer. It has also been reported that caffeine contributes to insomnia, tremors, indigestion, headaches, panic attacks, and prolonged depression. Drinking a cup every day, as most working adults are guilty of, may lead to a physical dependence on caffeine. Another common practice is the use of milk or sugar in addition to an already artificially flavored cup of coffee. Flavored coffee contains chemical additives such as polypropylene glycol, which is a harsh irritant to the skin and eyes with prolonged contact.

Throughout this research, for every study that claimed to have found the truth about the effects of coffee on the body, there was another study to contradict the other in its entirety.

The debate continues, but here are a few tips for those who want to feel justified with their cup of Joe:

Opt for organic coffee when possible.

Coffee is among crops that are most heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Avoid sugar and/or milk.

These additives are usually where the real detrimental effects of coffee lie, as they are much worse for you than the coffee itself.

Go natural.

Instead of drinking an artificially flavored coffee, try adding cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey or any other natural food flavoring.

Use a non-bleached filter.

The bright white filters are bleached with chlorine, which is likely to be extracted from the filter during the brewing process.

It seems as though coffee can be beneficial or detrimental depending on your lifestyle and preexisting conditions. Therefore, you must determine for your own health whether drinking coffee is right for you.

Rachel Collins