#WellnessWeds: How enjoying your morning coffee may protect your heart

My favorite part of waking up in the morning is my first cup of coffee.  The whir of the grinder and the smell of the coffee as it is being brewed are integral parts of my morning routine.  And that first cup, served in my Waffle House coffee mug, is exactly the taste I crave.

As time goes on, researchers are finding that my predilection for a morning cup of joe potentially has some positive health benefits.  A drink my grandfather cautioned me about because it was thought to be harmful to your health is now becoming a beverage that can be good for you, given the right circumstances.

Recently, the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Heart Failure, published the results of a study that found drinking two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day gives people an 11% lower risk of developing heart failure, compared to people who don’t consume any coffee.  The first author believes coffee reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which reduces the risk for potential heart failure.

This comes on the heels of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed even a single cup of coffee per day reduced the risk of dying from heart disease to be reduced by 6 percent in men and 5 percent in women.  The study, conducted by AARP and the National Institutes of Health followed 400,000 people between the ages of 50 to 71 for up to 13 years to arrive at their results.

Coffee has also shown to help prevent liver disease, reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, reduces the effects of Parkinson’s disease, lowers risk of contracting certain cancers and significantly lowers your risk of developing diabetes.  Research has even found that coffee contains antibacterials that inhibit plaque production and prevent dental decay.

As many studies point out, there are a number of things for researchers to uncover before doctors are willing to declare coffee as the next super-food.  While coffee itself is high in antioxidants, researchers believe the health benefits could be from the caffeine that is naturally a part of coffee beans.  The strength of your brewed coffee and the time of day the coffee should be consumed were other areas researchers want to explore as well.

Other things to consider before you begin sipping your next cup of java; the cream, milk or sugar you mix into your coffee every morning contains calories, which can impact your diet and negate the positives of the coffee.  And the studies very on the amount of coffee people should drink.  In fact, coffee remains a dangerous drink for people with certain heart conditions.

As with chocolate or alcoholic beverages, any health benefit can be negated by overindulging, so drink your coffee in moderation.

So today, I celebrate the health benefits of my morning cup of java and revel in the fact that my Grandfather was wrong about one thing.  Coffee never did stunt my growth.

Photo credit [ebarrera]

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