Today was National Coffee Day. Actually, I celebrate national coffee day every day – but yesterday I enjoyed a whole lot of company in that commemoration. In fact, some 54% of the population in the United States drinks coffee on a daily basis. Lucky for all of us – half a dozen coffee joints from McDonalds to Dunkin’ Donuts distributed free cups of coffee to anyone who asked. And since there’s been a bit of buzz lately about the assorted health benefits of coffee, I decided to pack up my iPad and do some research while enjoying various and sundry free cups of jo all over town.
One of my first surprises lay in the discovery that coffee is actually a fruit. Specifically, the coffee bean is extracted from the cherry fruit. Who knew? And interestingly enough, the longer coffee is roasted, the weaker is the strength and impact of its caffeine, so that darker roasts deliver less caffeine than lighter roasts. I love the lighter roasts, which just might explain why I come across as being somewhat hyper.
Okay, very hyper.
During the 17th century in England, coffee houses were known as “penny universities” where a cup of coffee cost a penny and engaging conversation was held. Come to think of it, this might be where the expression “a penny for your thoughts” originated.
Coffee itself, before all the cream and sugar are added, boasts some surprising health benefits:
- The smell of coffee alone provides an olfactory-approved aromatherapy.
- Folks who drink 4-cups of coffee a day are less likely to have health issues such as certain cancers, stokes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
- The caffeine in coffee, when not ingested in high quantities, can be quite beneficial to some. However, decaf may be healthier for those who need to watch their caffeine intake because it raises blood pressure and epinephrine known as adrenaline.
- Coffee is rich in magnesium and chromium, which help the body regulate insulin.
- Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the severity of symptoms in people who suffer from poor eyesight and tinnitus.
- Coffee drinkers report experiencing improved mental acuity, and thus, improved performance at work, school or sports.
- Drinking coffee is a very social and calming activity for some and therefore throwing down a cup or two opens the door to conversation and relaxation. For many, day without coffee is a day without sunshine.
- Coffee aids “” Drinking coffee seems to stimulate the muscles of one’s colon.
Are there any negatives to drinking coffee? Well, if you’re drinking coffee in public, make sure you know where the restrooms are. Coffee is very effective as a diuretic. Coffee also contains acids which can irritate the lining of the stomach, therefore causing upset – so, know your limits. Finally, adding the “extras” (i.e., creams, sugars) into your coffee rings up quite the caloric punch, so beware!
I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to give up coffee. My morning brew is like warm hug from a good friend on a cold day. How I do LOVE my coffee!