A Health Lover's Guide to Coffee

health-benefits-coffee

A Health Lover’s Guide to Coffee

83% of Americans drink coffee; we drink more coffee than people from any other country. Why? Because it’s a dangerous concoction of delicious and addictive substances. Nothing smells better than a cup of freshly brewed coffee — except the aroma of organic, uncured bacon. Anyway… back to coffee.

Origin

Legend has it that coffee was discovered by the 9th century Ethiopian goat herder, Kaldi. Kaldi supposedly noticed that his goats would act odd (hyper) after eating the coffee plant. Nothing was written about Kaldi discovering coffee until the late 1600s, so it probably isn’t true. The first documented coffee brew was by Sufi monks in Yemen in the mid-1400s. Middle Eastern/East African trade has led to many unbelievable benefits to world society, but in my opinion, none of them come close to the discovery of coffee.

Coffee in America

Coffee came to America during early Colonial trade and gained a lot of popularity following the Boston Tea Party. American’s found the best of both worlds: a delicious morning beverage with the added benefit of not relying on Britain to get it. Like most things brought to America, coffee has become ingrained into our culture (think Pokémon and techno music… only more tasty). Coffee has received a bad reputation for supposed “unhealthy effects.” Bollocks, I say! Coffee, when brought up with care and treated in the proper way, can actually have extensive health benefits.

Recovery

Caffeine has been shown to decrease post-workout muscle soreness and speed recovery almost half as fast when compared to a placebo! Caffeinated athletes not only performed better in a trial to exhaustion, they were also ready for competition 48 percent fast than those who somehow managed to avoid the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Cholesterol

Coffee is very high in antioxidants that accomplish many wonderful things in your body. Coffee consumption has been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation in arteries which can lead to heart disease. One study showed that doubling your coffee intake can lead to an 8 percent reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol (an extreme measure, but good to know its healing effects).

Reproductive Health

According to the National Cancer Institute, coffee consumption has been shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer in men. Likewise, the scientific journal Caner Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found that coffee consumption in women can lower their risk of endometrial cancer up to 25 percent. An extremely high amount of coffee consumption was sued for these studies (6 and 4 cups per day respectively), but often times medical studies need to go an extreme to rule out other variables. I don’t think I’ve ever consumed 6 cups of coffee in a day; however I’m positive my two per day is enough to reap this beneficial effect.

Brain Health

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease stated in 2009 that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that the mere smell of coffee reduced stress associated with sleep deprivation in rats. So if you need to wake up extra early, coffee not only tastes, it balances your hormones!

Coffee Tips

  • Always buy organic. Coffee beans are a fruit, so they are treated with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and who knows whatever else. Buying certified organic coffee from a reputable source will keep your coffee free of toxins.
  • Prepare with care. Most commercial coffee pots brew coffee with water that is too hot. This heat can kill some of the beneficial antioxidants and leave your coffee tasting burnt. About 190 degrees is the perfect temperature is a French press or with a simple cup-and-filter.
  • Prepare it fresh. Good coffee should have a “roasted on” label so you know when it was roasted. Coffee is at its best three to 10 days after roasting. “To refrigerate or not refrigerate?” Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Just drink it within two weeks and you won’t have to worry about it!

Sources:

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/09/coffee-mania/2069335/
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/coffee-health-benefits_b_2962490.html
Charles Poliquin:
http://www.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/947/Ten_Benefits_of_Coffee_for_Health_Performance_Body.aspx

Photo  by @Doug88888

Originally posted 2013-11-04 06:21:03.

Is juicing healthy?

juicing-benefits

Until recently, fresh fruit or vegetable juice has had an untarnished reputation. After all, what could be unhealthy about drinking down all the nutrients contained in the healthiest foods known to man? But that’s just it, when we drink juice, we aren’t really getting all the nutrients those fruits and vegetables have to offer. And that’s where the opponents of juicing come in — juicing skeptics claim that since we’re missing a few of the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables, juicing isn’t a healthy option. So what’s the verdict? Should we completely give up fresh juice just because it doesn’t contain all the components contained in whole fruits and vegetables? Here’s how we weigh in:

Some juices aren’t as healthy as others: Opponents of juicing makes some good points, fruit and vegetables juices are missing a lot of fiber, and they can also be high in sugary calories. Fiber is a crucial part of the diet — it provides roughage to ensure proper digestion and stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. The fiber contained in fruits and vegetables also acts as an anecdote to the high amount of sugar found in many fruits. Fiber actually prevents the absorption of fructose, while effectively carrying it out of the digestive tract. 

But here’s the thing, not all juices contain a ton of sugar, and just because you’re not getting all the fiber doesn’t mean that you aren’t getting a ton of other important nutrients.  It is, however, probably a good idea to avoid juicing fruits that are high in fructose, like oranges and apples. While these juices can still provide some wonderful nutrients, they supply a high amount of fructose. Too much fructose in one serving can cause fructose malabsorption and the growth of harmful bacteria. If you’re watching your body fat, fruit juices can also pack a significant amount of sugary, fat-depositing calories. 

Fruit and vegetable juices demonstrate a number of researched health benefits: The research backing up the health benefits provided by fruit and vegetable juices (especially vegetables juices) is impressive. Juicing provides a convenient way to consume an immense amount of vitamin, minerals, and phytonutrients. These nutrients are responsible for giving beet juice its cardiovascular, endurance, and anti-cancer benefits, carrot juice its anti-colon cancer and eye-health promoting properties, and leafy green juices their ability to improve sugar metabolism.  

We prefer to view vegetable and fruit juice as a supplement to a healthy diet: Since vegetable and fruits juices provide so many amazing nutrients and health benefits, it makes sense to include them in your diet. Imagine if you ate a healthy whole food diet, with plenty of fiber, plus you supplemented your daily diet with a glass of freshly juiced greens and carrot juice. You’d be giving your body a great big hug, providing it with the nutrients that can actually help optimize your DNA! Most of us are short on some vitamin and minerals — juicing is an easy way to boost nutrient and anti-oxidant intake with the complex forms found in nature.

Make juices healthier by using them with healthy fats or in smoothies: Some of the most important vitamins vegetables contain are various forms of fat-soluble carotenoids. Since juice doesn’t have any fat in it, your body won’t be able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins very well unless you eat a little fat at the same time. When you juice vegetables, be sure to drink the juice with a meal or eat a little healthy fat, like a tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil or a few capsules of fish oil, at the same time. Also, since you’re missing out on most of the fiber, try adding your vegetable juice to a smoothie that contains a cup or two of whole fruits and vegetables like frozen berries, whole spinach, or romaine lettuce.  

A few other considerations when juicing: Some of the best fruits and vegetables for juicing also tend to be the ones that contain the highest amounts of pesticides. Be sure to only use leafy greens that are certified organic, and wash all root vegetables or fruits that have edible skins thoroughly before juicing. Finally, in order to prevent fructose malabsorption, limit the amount of fruits you juice, and try to emphasize leafy greens and other vegetables.

References: “Effects of carrot and tomato juice consumption on colon carcinogenesis in humans,” Journal of Nutrition; “Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults,” Journal of Nutrition; “The effect of lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich foods v. supplements on macular pigment levels,” Journal of Nutrition; “Mitigation of starch and glucose-induced postprandial glycemic excursion in rats by antioxidant-rich green-leafy vegetables’ juice,” Pharmacognosy Magazine.

Originally posted 2013-10-28 15:14:40.