Pouring over benefits of coffee

By: Steven Goodman – Columnist, Sophomore

Starbucks on the corner, The Blend at Roesch, an 8 a.m. class: what do all of these things have in common? Most of the people in these places are drinking coffee. While there are a lot of people who have a cup of coffee in the morning, not everyone realizes how good coffee can be for you. In fact, it’s probably one of the healthiest things you can drink, besides water, fruit juice and milk of course.

Just about everyone has heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but based on recent studies, coffee may be just as good, if not better, at keeping the doctor away.

Drinking even just one cup of coffee a day has major health benefits. According to a May 6, 2010 article from Mayo Clinic, coffee can protect against Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 Diabetes and even cancer, not to mention its high antioxidant content. The biggest and boldest benefit of coffee comes from the New England Journal of Medicine, which published a study on May 17, 2012 called “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality,” which found a link between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of death.

That being said, all of these health benefits are contained in the coffee itself, while additives like cream and sugar have little to no nutritional value and can even make the drink less healthy. In fact, many coffee creamers have partially hydrogenated oils, also known as trans fats, in them. Trans fats have essentially zero health benefits. In fact, they are worse to consume than other fats. Do you really want that in your drink?

Sugar is a pretty obvious one. While your body does need sugar, the more of it you have the less good for you it is.
While there are some risks associated with heavy consumption of coffee, the benefits grossly outweigh the risks. A study by Harvard in April 2006 called “Coffee’s Health Benefits” found that drinking unfiltered coffee can cause small increases in cholesterol, but drinking filtered coffee helps to eliminate this risk. As with anything you eat or drink, having too much coffee can be a bad thing. Drinking a lot of caffeinated coffee (according to Mayo Clinic “a lot” is four to seven cups a day), can cause sleeplessness and anxiety. So as with everything in life, moderation is important.

While you don’t have to drink coffee to be healthy, there is very little coffee does to hinder your health. So maybe the old saying should be changed to “a cup of coffee a day keeps the doctor away.”