For years people have depended on the stimulant coffee to wake them up, keep them alert, and improve their mood. Now, investigations show that both caffeine and decaf coffee contain powerful, healthy antioxidants and offer protection against diseases.
The following women-only research studies show the benefits of regular or decaffeinated coffee. An average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine. A cup of decaf coffee is not the same as caffeine-free, and can still contain a varying amount of caffeine, roughly one tenth as much as caffeine coffee.
Type 2 Diabetes and Coffee
Reported in the February 2006 issue of Diabetes Care, a 10-year research study involving 88,000 nurses (the Nurses’ Health Study II) found that those women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee, caffeine or decaf, had up to a 47% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Even 1 cup had a slightly decreased risk. Experts believe antioxidants in coffee enhance insulin sensitivity, and the American Chemical Society notes that coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the long term.
Antioxidants are phytochemicals found in plants that help the body control free radical damage. Antioxidants can neutralize harmful free radicals that form in the natural process of cell respiration and can cause DNA damage. Antioxidants cannot be stored, so it is important to eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day – and drink coffee.
Heart Disease and Coffee
Drinking regular or decaf coffee, just 1 to 3 cups, reduced risk of heart disease death by 24% compared to non-coffee drinkers. The study of about 27,000 women, part of the Iowa Women’s Health Study, was reported in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The healthy women were between the ages 55 and 69 and followed for 15 years. The researchers believe the antioxidants in coffee reduce inflammation that plays a part in heart disease.
In the past, there was a concern that caffeinated beverages contributed to high blood pressure, a symptom of possible heart disease, and with sodas that is still the case. However, a study reported in the November 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women show no overall increase in blood pressure with habitual intake of caffeine coffee.
Coffee and Suicide
A 1996 study of approximately 86,000 female nurses found that those who drank 2 to 3 cups of caffeine coffee per day were significantly less likely to commit suicide than non-coffee drinkers. Researcher Ichiro Kawachi, M. D., believes that coffee acts as an antidepressant – and provides opportunity for important social contacts and support.
Scientists are discovering through research that regular or decaf coffee has health benefits. Coffee contains potent antioxidants that deactivate damaging free radicals in the body and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Regular coffee acts as a mood-enhancer and an antidepressant. In women-only studies, drinking coffee reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease death and suicide.
This is an educational article only. Coffee can cause adverse effects in some individuals. See your physician for further advice.