coffee, antioxidant, polyphenols, caffeine

Ask the Doc: Should I Be Drinking More Coffee?

Ask the Doc: Should I Be Drinking More Coffee?

Ive read that coffee is the richest dietary source of antioxidants. Should I be drinking more coffee? J. S.

Dear J. S.: Coffee contains substances called polyphenols that provide antioxidant benefits. The contention that Americans get the majority of their dietary antioxidants from coffee says more about the pathetic state of the Standard American Diet (SAD) than it does about the excellence of coffee as a dietary constituent.

When it comes to health, coffee appears to convey both benefits and risks. Coffee has been reported to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, and gout.

On the down side, coffee has been shown to cause stiffening of arterial walls, which can trigger or aggravate high blood pressure. Drinking coffee results in a loss of magnesium, the bodys natural muscle relaxant, and some studies have suggested that it increases the risk of heart attacks. Caffeine is a stimulant, which can cause jitteriness, increase the likelihood of experiencing irregular heart beats, and promote adrenal fatigue. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee both appear to increase levels of substances that are related to inflammation, one of the basic causes of disease and aging.

The presence of antioxidants does not automatically make coffee a health beverage. The down side of coffee drinking is at least as great as the up side. If you enjoy coffee and choose to indulge, limit your intake to no more than 4 eight ounce cups daily. Dr. Dale

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