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Caffeine and Health: The God and bad Sides

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he Link between caffeine and health has both negative and positive aspects. First monopolised in Arabia as a drink for energy and vitality, the richly flavoured brew from the coffee bean soon became a worldwide phenomenon. It’s enjoyed by almost anyone and the coffee bean has even given rise to a huge coffee culture and a multi-billion dollar industry. Its caffeine’s powerful mood-altering properties that make it so popular. What’s more, it’s addictive. The jury is not completely out as to whether or not we should consume caffeine but a moderate intake is set at about 300mg per day, which equates to about one or two cups of coffee.

Because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it can lead to behavioral disturbances, like nervousness, anxiety and even paranoia, although the effects are mild.

There are also studies to support that regular caffeine consumption may raise blood cholesterol levels. More recently, it was found that coffee raises homocysteine levels, which further contributes to heart disease.


In women, coffee consumption is linked to decreased bone mineral density, decreased fertility and a worsening of PMS symptoms, particularly painful breasts.

It’s not all bad news though and the coffee bean is not without its merits. You’re probably aware that tea is rich in free radical scavenging antioxidants, but recent studies have also pointed towards coffee as an excellent source of these healthy nutrients. The major coffee antioxidant has been identified as chlorogenic acid (a combination of caffeic acids and quinic acid) and it may be a major contributing source of antioxidants in the diet.

Asthma sufferers may also benefit from moderate consumption, and coffee may be used to lesson the severity of asthma attacks. As another bonus, if taken before exercise, caffeine can help with fat burning and also enhances athletic performance and endurance. It also helps increase mental alertness and may improve memory and concentration.

Regular versus decaf

There is a perception that decaffeinated coffee is better for you. Its true- the caffeine content is lower, but studies have shown that decaffeinated coffee may raise LDL cholesterol (the bad type) to an even greater degree than regular coffee can.

Caffeine and Health: Coffee consumption rules

· If you drink coffee, keep total caffeine intake at no more than 300mg per day

· If pregnant, avoid caffeine or limit to no more than 1 cup per day

· Do not drink excess coffee if you suffer from or are at risk for osteoporosis

· Do not drink excess coffee

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if you are at risk for heart disease

 

· Do not drink decaffeinated coffee in excess if you suffer from high cholesterol levels

· Do not drink excess coffee if you suffer from PMS symptoms

· Diabetics should be cautious about their caffeine intake, as the effects on diabetics is not yet fully established

· Avoid drinking coffee after lunch time, so as to avoid insomnia

· Beware of adulterated coffee. Cappuccinos and lattes contain lots of dairy. Watch the amount of sugar or sweetener you use.

· Caffeine is a diuretic, so make sure you drink one glass of water for every cup of coffee consumed

· Avoid substituting coffee drinking for eating food. It creates a false sense of alertness and may mask low blood sugar levels

· Practice some coffee free days from time to time, to make sure that you aren’t becoming addicted

 

 

 

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