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Is coffee good for your health?

According to a Gallup poll, 64 percent of American adults drink at least one cup of coffee a day.  And while consuming too much caffeine is not recommended, there are some health benefits associated with drinking coffee in moderation.  

“In recent years, researchers have proposed several coffee benefits, from improved insulin function to anti-inflammatory functions,” says Jodi Chitwood, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Piedmont.  “But it is unclear thus far whether the health benefits of coffee relate to caffeine or another ingredient found in the drink.”

Here are five ways coffee may be good for your health:

1. It lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. A report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are 50 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard found that people who increased their coffee intake by more than one cup per day lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent.

2. Drinking coffee reduces the risk of certain cancers. Scientists at the World Health Organization (WHO) discovered that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of uterine and liver cancers. Coffee drinkers who drank one cup per day decreased their risk of liver cancer by 15 percent.

3. Coffee can improve your mood. Drinking a cup of coffee can stimulate your mind, enhance alertness and decrease mental fatigue—all things needed to give you a boost of energy and improve your mood. 

During a 10-year study, Harvard Researchers found that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15 percent less likely to develop depression than those who consumed less than one cup per day. And women who drank four or more cups a day lowered their risk by 20 percent.

4. Coffee is a great source of antioxidants. Coffee contains the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which may be used to help fight diabetes.  Coffee also contains a compound called trigonelline, which may help prevent dental cavities. And coffee is high in quinine, a compound commonly used to treat malaria.

5. It may help with some Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. Researchers have found that caffeine may help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative brain disease that causes tremors and problems with coordination.

A study published in the American Academy of Neurology showed that caffeine may help improve movement symptoms for people with the disease.

Should coffee be considered a healthy drink?

“I think the story with coffee will turn out to be much like that with other substances, like red wine,” says Chitwood. “Consume it in moderation, and there is likely to be a health benefit. Overdo it, and you are likely to suffer negative consequences, like hypertension or heart palpitations.  And if in doubt, consult with your primary care physician about your specific health risks and about whether moderate amounts of coffee are likely to provide benefit in your specific case.”

Dr. Chitwood practices at Piedmont Physicians East Paces Buckhead Internal Medicine, located at 371 East Paces Ferry Road Northeast, Suite 300, Atlanta, GA 30305. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chitwood or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

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