Coffee beans were on my shopping list. We switched back to buying beans when I brought our coffee grinder out of storage. I need to stay alert for the season.
As I studied all the coffee types in a supermarket aisle, the choices nearly overwhelmed me: light, medium, dark roast, whole beans, various grinds, caffeinated, decaffeinated, multiple flavors, pre-bagged or fill-your-own bag. You get the picture.
“We have lots of choices,” I commented to a fellow shopper who was staring at the same array of packages. I was surprised she didn’t answer, “Well, duh.”
“Too many,” she replied. “This is a gift for my son who has a French-press coffeemaker. I just buy the cheap stuff for myself.”
I decided on a package of medium roast beans with no added flavor, tossed it in my cart and called it good. The other shopper still may be at the store.
Coffee is big business and Americans are dedicated consumers. Americans collectively spend $40 billion annually on coffee according to 2013 statistics from Food Industry News.
Chances are, if this column caught your attention, you are among the coffee drinkers. You even may be sipping coffee. Let’s take a look at the effects, positive or negative, that drinking coffee has on health.
Through the years, coffee has had some negative publicity. For example, coffee was linked to increasing blood cholesterol levels in one study. When other experts reviewed the study, they noted the coffee was boiled, which changes its composition, and the participants in the study drank twice the average amount.
The good news is that moderate consumption of coffee, two or three cups daily, does not negatively affect most people’s health. In fact, many research studies have shown coffee has positive effects.
Many of us drink coffee to “wake us up” in the morning and during the midafternoon slump. Being “mentally alert” is a good thing, but too much caffeine can leave you jittery. If you decide to cut back, remember to wean yourself slowly to avoid potential headaches.
Coffee is rich in protective antioxidants, with at least one study showing it to be higher in anti-oxidants than green tea and other types of tea. A Harvard study examined the role of coffee and development of Type II diabetes and found that drinking coffee seemed to have a protective effect against the disease. But, before relying on coffee to lower diabetes risk, note that other issues, especially increasing weight, play a role in diabetes development.
Next time you run a marathon, keep this in mind, too: A little caffeine before an event can boost an athlete’s performance. Some research, although controversial, has shown a slight protective effect of a few daily cups of caffeinated coffee toward gallstones and Parkinson’s disease.
Who should forgo coffee or trim back consumption to minimal levels? If your doctor says “no coffee,” abide by that rule. If you suffer from heartburn, you may want to curb your caffeine intake. Drinking coffee can stimulate the painful burning sensation of heartburn.
If you’re drinking coffee instead of milk, you may be putting your bones at risk. Aim for at least three servings of calcium-rich foods daily and do weight-bearing exercise for strong bones.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to minimize, or better yet, eliminate caffeine consumption. This is an issue best discussed with a medical care provider.
Overall, moderation is the best advice when it comes to coffee. Would you like to try a cappuccino but don’t have a machine? Try out this inexpensive alternative adapted from a recipe from www.foodandhealth.com.
1 1/4 c. hot coffee of choice
1/4 c. skim milk
Sweetened cocoa powder
Place skim milk in glass jar and tightly apply lid. Shake until froth forms. Pour coffee in large mug and top with frothy milk. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and cinnamon.
The recipe makes 1 serving with 27 calories, no fat and 75 milligrams of calcium.