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Health Benefits Whoo-hoo!

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For years, red wine has gotten all the good press about its positive health benefits.But now, there’s good news for those of us whose favorite beverage comes from a bean and not from a grape.As outlined in a column on WebMD by Sid Kirchheimer, Harvard researchers spent 18 years studying data on 126,000 people and arrived at a rather surprising result: not only is caffeinated coffee good for you, it would seem the more the better.

Research shows that drinking one to three cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of diabetes by single digits.But when the caffeinated coffee intake goes up to six cups or more a day, that risk is cut by 30% in women and an astonishing 54% in men over those who don’t drink any coffee.And this isn’t the first study to have these findings.A lesser-known Dutch study found basically the same result.

And it’s not just diabetes where coffee’s positive effects can be seen.There have been at least six studies that indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.Other research shows, compared to non-coffee drinkers, at least two cups a day reduces the risk of colon cancer 25%, gallstones 50% and the risk of cirrhosis drops a whopping 80%.

“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Dr. Tomas DePaulis, Ph.D.Dr. DePaulis is a scientist who does his research at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies (yes, it’s a real institute).The institute conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world.“For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”

So what is it about coffee that makes it such a wonder drug?Some of coffee’s benefits are directly related to its high level of caffeine.An average cup of joe contains 85mg – about three and a half times found in the same amount of tea or cola or an ounce of chocolate."The evidence is very strong that regular coffee consumption reduces risk of Parkinson's disease and for that, it's directly related to caffeine," Dr. DePaulis says."In fact, Parkinson's drugs are now being developed that contain a derivative of caffeine based on this evidence."

But don’t take this information as a license to chugg.Downing more coffee than your body can handle can increase nervousness, cause hand trembling and rapid heartbeat.Coffee may also raise cholesterol levels in some people.But overall, most large studies have found no significant adverse effects on most healthy people, although pregnant women, heart patients, and those at risk for osteoporosis may still be advised to limit or avoid coffee.

The bottom line:People who already drink a lot of coffee don't have to feel 'guilty' as long as coffee does not affect their daily life and they may benefit from their morning java habits in the long run.

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