Coffee Talk

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It’s been a controversial topic– Is coffee a bad habit that stains your teeth and stunts your growth, or is it an antioxidant-rich drink with numerous health benefits, such as curbing chances of type-two diabetes?

In short: is coffee good or bad for you?

Our question, however, is this: does your cup of joe need a label of “good” or “evil”? Recent health studies have taken on a newfound fascination with coffee, one of the workday’s most ubiquitous beverages. A feature on the Harvard Medical School website, for instance, states that coffee not only contains various antioxidants that help to curb tissue damage caused by oxygen-free radicals, but can also carry cancer-fighting properties and lower one’s risk of developing diabetes. Dr. Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, further explains that in type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use the hormone known as insulin, thus losing its capacity to regulate blood sugar effectively. Coffee’s substantial levels of minerals like magnesium and chromium, however, can help the body utilize insulin and aid in the control of blood sugar (glucose).

Yet a different feature from the Harvard Medical School brings up a crucial point in the coffee debate: regardless of the influx of coffee-related health studies, perhaps it is best to use one’s own judgement. As the article highlights:

If you’re drinking so much coffee that you get tremors, have sleeping problems, or feel stressed and uncomfortable, then obviously you’re drinking too much coffee.

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The feature makes a valid argument–drinking coffee can be an entirely personal matter. If your stomach ties in knots after a third cup, it’s probably time to put down the mug and hydrate with water. If your heart is racing and you’ve got the jitters, perhaps a morning cup of tea is more conducive to making you feel your best. This is why when reviewing the recent health-related coffee chatter, three of the most common threads are highly decision based:

One: Moderation is key. That goes for coffee fixings as well–namely milk, cream, and sugar.

Two: Quality and brand matter, for reasons that are grounded in both health and ethics.

Three: Consider how coffee makes you feel. Do you already have high cholesterol and blood pressure? Are you pregnant? Do you have a history of acid reflux? Listen to your body–coffee may not be the best drink for you. (But if you’d still like a caffeine fix, check out this Smart Lunches recipe for homemade chai tea!)

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