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A Brief Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Coffee

Aside from tea, coffee is the most popular beverage worldwide. It is also the most questioned in medical and fitness circles. Everyone knows that tea contains a long list of health benefits, but what about coffee? First, you hear that coffee is healthy, and then you hear it is detrimental to your health. Rumors at the gym say it can help your performance, yet drinking too much can harm you. 

Below is a brief overview to help you get the facts straight on coffee consumption.

Coffee or tea: which has higher levels of antioxidants?
Coffee is high in antioxidants, which helps the body fight illness caused by free radicals. These antioxidants seek out free radicals and destroy them. There has been a dispute for many years as to whether coffee has more antioxidants than any other beverage, such as green tea. Each one of these beverages contains high amounts of antioxidants- tea has high levels of polyphenols, whereas coffee contains chlorogenic acid. Both of these are potent antioxidants, but studies have shown that cup for cup, coffee contains higher levels, therefore making it the winner.

Benefits
There is a long list of health benefits associated with drinking coffee on a daily basis. Below are two of the most notable.

• A group of researchers recently reviewed 28 studies that were published in the medical journal Diabetes Care, concerning the effects coffee has on type II diabetes. They discovered that individuals who drank 6 cups of coffee per day, either regular or decaffeinated, reduced their risk of developing type II diabetes by 30 percent.

• A study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program found that drinking 2 or more cups of coffee per day can lower the risk of alcoholics developing cirrhosis of the liver by 22 percent. The researchers also suggested that drinking this amount of coffee can help alcoholics reduce the risk of death by liver cirrhosis by 66 percent.

Can you have too much coffee?
You can definitely have too much of a good thing. According to studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic, coffee can have negative effects on your health. If you consume too much of this popular brew, you may experience muscle tremors, rapid or irregular heartbeat, irritability, stomach cramps, nervousness and temporary insomnia. Of course, this refers to caffeinated coffee. If you experience any of the above conditions, it is suggested to reduce your consumption or switch to decaf.

Can coffee give your workout boost?
Many serious workout enthusiasts take nutrient stacks that contain caffeine before their workout to enhance their performance. Can drinking coffee do the same? Researchers think so.  A recent study published in The British Journal of Sports Science states that drinking a strong cup of coffee before your workout can help accelerate fat loss and increase your performance. 

Researchers at the University of Illinois have also discovered that coffee is an effective post workout drink. Individuals who drank coffee immediately after their workout experienced much less muscle pain and stiffness the following day.

In a nutshell, coffee indeed carries more benefits than risks. However, as with anything, moderation is key. 

Sources: The Mayo Clinic, Harvard University, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, The British Journal of Sports Science, University of Illinois

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