A Cup a Day Keeps the Dr. Away

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You know that old phrase an apple a day keeps the dr. away?  Well, it seems that coffee is the new apple.

It’s no secret that coffee addiction is extremely common in the United States.

Most of my generation grew up with the idea that drinking too much coffee is bad.  I remember tasting the foul smelling liquid from my father’s cup as a child and asking why he drank that stuff every day, and he would always tell me it was a bad habit from his stressful law school days.

Low and behold 5 years later, I was drinking coffee every day.  It was never an “addiction,” as I wouldn’t get headaches or withdrawal symptoms if I missed my morning coffee one day, but I took pleasure in starting my day with a cup of Joe and my homework.

It was only a couple years later that the “coffee is bad” studies were thrown out the window.  Suddenly coffee was the new miracle food just like today’s quinoa.  A cup a day would stave off Alzheimer’s, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  Suddenly coffee was advised for all those without heart problems.

How did this happen?

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Well in part, the antioxidant craze took over.  You know those things found in berries?  Well, coffee is one of the highest sources of antioxidants.

What exactly are antioxidants and why are they good for you?  

An antioxidant inhibits (prevents) the oxidation of other molecules.  Why is that a good thing?  Because it can help protect from free radicals.  The process of oxidation can cause free radicals, which can lead to a chain reaction, often resulting in damage or death to the cells.  Although oxidation is crucial to life, an imbalance can cause many problems.  Many studies have attributed certain diseases to oxidative stress; therefore, antioxidants can be helpful in preventing disease, and possibly in prolonging life and cell damage.

Check out this video from Health Span UK on antioxidants:

The Coffee v. Tea Debate

I often hear many friends trying to stave off their coffee addictions by switching to tea.  I can understand cutting down on caffeine by drinking less coffee, but I never find tea quite as satisfying.  Tea, it turns out, is also lower in antioxidants.  A cup of coffee has more antioxidants than a cup of tea, but because tea won’t give you the jitters, you may be able to get the same amount of antioxidants by drinking more tea.

The moral of the story is that both coffee and tea are high in antioxidants.  Coffee contains more antioxidants per volume.  Unless you have heart problems and need to wean yourself off of caffeine, then I see no reason to deny yourself your daily dose of coffee.

For an extra bump in antioxidants, you can even sprinkle your cappuccino with cacao.

Happy coffee drinking!

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