The Seven Wonders of Coffee

Sara Suchy | Sept 4, 2012

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Coffee: a pick-me-up with all kinds of health benefits.

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Coffee straight up

The latest estimate is that about 50 percent of American adults consume coffee on a daily basis. After oil, it’s the second most traded commodity in the country.  No question that coffee is a big deal. But unlike many of our other favorite foods, coffee may actually make us healthier. Point of clarification:  We’re talking about straight-up black coffee.  “Coffees” laced with sugar, whole milk, syrup and whipped cream will not do your body any favors.

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Coffee in; type 2 diabetes out

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that coffee drinkers – specifically, ‘heavy coffee drinkers’ – have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers identified two categories of compounds in coffee that block a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide – a compound that has been found to cause type 2 diabetes.People who drank four or more cups of coffee per day have a 50 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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Cancer protection

Similar to how coffee protects the body against type 2 diabetes, coffee also has been shown to protect against certain kinds of cancer, especially those linked to obesity, estrogen and insulin. Researchers found that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day resulted in a 7 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer. Drinking four or more cups of coffee per day brought a 25 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer.

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Reducing liver disease risk

Caffeine alone has been shown many times over to decrease the risk of liver disease and reduce fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease. New research published in Hepatology – a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases – found that the caffeine in coffee could also reduce the risk of advanced fibrosis in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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Who needs Prozac?

Women who increase their consumption of coffee appear to decrease their risk of developing depression. Using data in the Nurses’ Health Study once more, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the nurses with no signs of depression at the onset of the study who consumed two to three cups of coffee per day, had a 15 percent decreased risk of developing depression in a two-year follow up survey.

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Sunscreen and French roast

As if that’s not enough, the American Association for Cancer Research has also found that the caffeine in coffee may decrease the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which is a form of skin cancer. Specifically, female study subjects who consumed more than three cups of coffee per day saw a 20 percent reduction in the risk of BCC and men who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day saw a nine percent decreased risk.

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Jolt your memory

Lest you think coffee only preserves the body from ailments such as cancer and diabetes, a recent study suggests that it may also protect people from Alzheimer’s disease, even in people predisposed to the condition. Researchers at the University of Florida found that 100 percent of the adults studied with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who drank three cups of coffee or more per day avoided developing Alzheimer’s disease after two to four years.

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And it keeps you alive

On top of everything else, coffee just may help you live longer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, and infections. Furthermore, relative to men and women who drank no coffee, those who drank three cups of coffee or more had a 10 percent lower risk of death.