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Posted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:04 pm Post subject: Benefits of Coffee
Benefits of Coffee
Turns out your favorite brew is much more than a tasty vehicle for a caffeine fix. Recent studies are finding that coffee is rich in antioxidants and contains hundreds of pain-relieving and antibacterial compounds. That doesn’t mean you can sip with impunity—you know what happens when you have too much. But it’s good to know that a cup or so might actually be doing more than getting you going in the morning. Here are some of the benefits.
Regular coffee makes you a better thinker. Caffeine, often described as the world’s most widely consumed mood-altering drug, competes with a calming body chemical called adenosine—and produces the opposite effect. Studies show coffee keeps you focused, particularly when you’re doing tedious work. In the sleep-deprived, says Harris Lieberman, PhD, a leading caffeine researcher with the U.S. Army, caffeine improves scores on a range of cognitive tasks, such as decision making, memory, learning, and attention. Coffee can also boost your mood, probably by making you feel more energetic, Lieberman says.
A new study shows caffeine can help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain, allowing you to push yourself harder and longer. For the most relief, you’ll need to down a 16-ounce cup of coffee before exercising. Smaller amounts may work, but less noticeably.
A tall latte may keep you out of the dentist’s chair. In lab tests, researchers in Italy recently found that coffee’s antibacterials slow the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the culprit in tooth decay. Coffee also contains compounds that keep bacteria from sticking to tooth enamel. Studies are under way to see if all this equals fewer cavities.
No more stones
It’s no secret that coffee makes your bladder more active. While that can be bothersome, it can also help reduce the risk of kidney stones, according to the Nurses Health Study. Women who drank the most coffee had the lowest risks. Caffeine increases the flow of more diluted urine, which lowers the chance of a kidney stone forming. Prefer decaf? No problem: It was shown to have similar effects.
New research shows that just 1 cup of coffee a day can halve your risk of Parkinson’s, a brain disease that causes tremors and affects movement. One in 50 women is likely to get the disease in her lifetime. Caffeine’s adenosine-blocking power may protect the brain cells typically lost to Parkinson’s, explains Alberto Ascherio, MD, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. (Women on hormone therapy don’t seem to benefit, however. Estrogen may dilute the effectiveness of caffeine.)
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