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Coffee and Your Health: Is it Good or Bad For You?

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There are some mixed opinions on coffee out there, but those opinions usually lean toward the extremes of can’t live without it or won’t go near it. I’m sure there are occasional coffee drinkers out there, but I don’t know of any. Personal opinions aside research also has a lot to say about the stuff, and that too can be pretty skewed. So what’s the deal, is coffee actually good for us or not at all? Here are some things to know.

Coffee Has Tons of Health Benefits

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It’s not just caffeine in your cup of joe, coffee a cup of coffee actually contains 11% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and 6% of the vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) you need. Multiply that by a couple cups and you’re making a significant dent. Coffee also contains smaller amounts of potassium, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, and B3 or Niacin.

Get this, many people eating a Western diet actually get more antioxidants from their coffee than through the fruits and vegetables in their diet. Not that you should skip that apple for a latte however, keep that as a supplement. Antioxidants are given a ton of credit because they’re one of the best things you can ingest to delay or prevent cell damage all over the body. Antioxidants can prevent the oxidation of other cells which cuts down on damage from the free radicals that threaten assault. Free radicals can come from anything from chemicals in food to stress.

Coffee drinkers on average tend to have lower risks of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s type 2 diabetes, and liver diseases including cirrhosis and cancer. Some studies have shown that coffee drinkers are even at lower risks of developing depression.

The antioxidant benefits of coffee are pretty solid, but caffeine has a more complicated reputation. On the good side, caffeine can actually boost your metabolism and increase your exercise performance if you drink it before you workout. Caffeine is also of course a stimulant and besides making you feel more awake it can provide a short term boost in reaction times, cognitive function, and even mood.

But Coffee Also Has It’s Downsides

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Coffee can become a very necessary habit (or addiction) and it’s higher in caffeine that an alternative like tea so overdoing it can happen. While caffeine in the right amount can boost your mood, in excess it can cause anxiety, jitteriness, and heart palpitations. For some people coffee can severely disrupt their sleep. When we become dependent on coffee to get a little upper over the long term, we might actually be changing the way that our serotonin is regulated and be causing lower lows. Which just feeds the need for more.

Despite all the nutrients that coffee contains, some research has shown that coffee can inhibit nutrient absorption and increase the amounts that are excreted out of the body. So if you drink coffee alongside a meal, you could be cutting yourself short nutritionally. Coffee is also acidic and can cause heartburn and reflux issues, as well as raise acid levels in the stomach.

So what’s the verdict? For most people the benefits of drinking coffee outweigh the downsides when consumption is kept in reasonable amounts. One last thing to keep in mind is that filtered coffee is a better alternative to the kind that is pressed. Yes, using a French press looks pretty impressive with its deliberateness but without the filter step pressed coffee can actually raise your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Stick with a regular coffee maker or make single cups with a filter and cone.

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About Kate Ferguson Kate Fergus is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blogs and online magazines. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce.

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