Thoughts For Food

Insights into the Mind of a Culinary School Student

Food Bites: Coffee

So I think it’s time I confessed something to you, dear readers: I didn’t touch a cup of coffee until I was almost 2/3rds way done with my college career. Many of my friends have been drinking coffee since high school, but here I am, a late coffee bloomer, I suppose. Regardless, I am HOOKED. Any chance I get, I’ll get a cup for myself. This recent coffee swing prompted my parents to warn me of the dangers of coffee such as headaches, stunted growth, etc. Well the joke’s on them! Recent studies have shown that coffee may actually be good for you. Crazy talk? Lies? Neither. It’s actually scientific truth.

I first heard of these positive coffee reports in my Nutrition class here at the CIA. Albeit in passing, my professor did mention a growing study of the supposed health benefits of coffee. According to this new research, coffee drinkers now have a whole host of health benefits. Decreased risk of dementia, Type-2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s, certain types of cancers, heart problems and even strokes.

Now that’s an impressive list if I’ve ever seen one. However, there is a catch (isn’t there always one?). As promising as this research is, there is no SOLID proof that coffee can do all this as of yet. Scientists have found out clues as to how your morning cup o’ joe can help your overall health and that much is a step in the right direction.

As far as Diabetes is concerned, studies have shown that people who drink 1 – 2 cups of coffee per day, do experience a 7% decrease in risk of getting Diabetes (Type-2). What is the source for this somewhat miraculous occurrence, you ask? The antioxidants present in the coffee itself. Coffee also contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively.

Because it lowers the risk for Diabetes, coffee can also lower the risk for heart problems and even strokes, by an astounding 20% according to recent studies. The caffeine in coffee can also counteract Parkinson’s, though how exactly it accomplishes this is still unknown. A Swedish-based study found that people who drink 3 – 5 cups of coffee a day over a 20 year period, were actually 65% less likely to develop dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s.

Here’s where the studies begin to get a little shaky in defending their nigh-miraculous claims. While the data that coffee can prevent certain types of cancer isn’t concrete, it is fairly consistent in its claims. Specifically it is the risk of liver cancer that is supposedly brought down by coffee, although the exact connection between the two is yet to be discovered.

So, does this mean that coffee is the go-to miracle drink of the century? Have we finally found our elixir of immortality? Not by a long shot. Coffee is just a very well-liked and popular drink that has a surprising amount of health benefits associated with it, despite the flak it gets for the amount of caffeine present in a cup of the stuff. With coffee’s growing popularity and diversity of flavors, the health benefits of this popular fuel source are sure to reach MANY people the world over. Maybe some years down the road, we will find out exactly what coffee can do to further the health of humanity. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use it as my everyday jump-starter.