Ah ! My Morning Cuppa Coffee !
Most of us cannot think of anything else in the morning till we have had our cup of coffee – the most popular beverage on planet earth! In fact, it is the coffee, which truly wakes us up! Ever wondered, what makes us depend on it or rather make us feel that we cannot live without that morning dose of booster? Did you ever ponder about coffee beyond that rich aroma which perks up your mood?
The Delicious History of Coffee
Coffee, we all know, is a beverage of Ethiopian origin. It is said that Kaldi, a goatherd, found his goats eating bright red berries from a dark-leafed shrub. Usually calm and responsible, the goats began dancing, frolicking and singing! Kaldi shared his discovery with local monks who concocted a drink by boiling the berries. These are also popularly known as coffee beans. After the drink, the monks realized that they had the stamina to pray for long hours. Later, a particularly curious monk, who liked the sweet aroma of a burning coffee branch, pulled the charred berries from the fire, ground them down and prepared a black beverage. This liquid was the first coffee. The word “coffee” is believed to be derived from the name of the place, ‘kaffa’ in southern Ethiopia, where coffee was cultivated.
Coffee is prepared from the roasted seeds — coffee beans — of the coffee plant. It is relished as both cold and hot. Some people like their coffee black (plain), while others prefer sweeten their coffee and / or add milk, cream or non-dairy creamer. However, many coffee lovers believe that the key to great coffee is selecting the best fresh green coffee beans and the ability to roast coffee at home. The traditional coffee has been transformed tremendously. Coffee has traveled far and wide and has undergone tremendous changes in methods used to unlock its flavor – or the art of brewing!
The bitter truth about Coffee
The biggest drawback for coffee started with the realization that it could stimulate the senses and give a feeling of enhanced stamina for working long hours! That it surely does, but what happens later, when we want to work ceaselessly just by gulping down coffee, is a matter of concern. This is because coffee simply stimulates the central nervous system and increases the stress hormones in the blood streams, thus making a person feel unnaturally alert. Consequently induced alert state tends to subdue the body’s natural instincts and prevent it from relaxing. Thus begins a coffeeholic’s journey. At the end of which, apart from developing dark circles under the eyes, one also acquires acidity problems, irregular palpitations and more. This causes undue stress and leads to various kinds of disorders.
Is coffee nutritionally rich?
Coffee by itself is relatively nutritionally inert. One teaspoon of coffee has about two calories of energy. The rest may come from the other ingredients like sugar. In fact, most of the energy in restaurant brewed espresso comes from fats. Coffee does not contain many vitamins, however it does contain plenty of Niacin. It is rich in its mineral content however.
Is Coffee harmful ?
Coffee’s effect on health has been attacked throughout the ages – as soon as its stimulatory effect was quickly noted ! Coffee lovers claim that the basis for accusations on coffee is absolutely unscientific. Perhaps the peak of the anti-coffee hysteria occurred during the nineteenth century, with coffee being blamed for every imaginable illness and disorder.
More careful research has been conducted in the last few decades and the results have been mixed. Most of the focus has been on coffee’s most (in) famous component, caffeine. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, a bitter alkaloid that probably forms part of the coffee plant’s defense system. Many of the effects of caffeine in coffee are obvious, depending upon the quantity consumed: increased alertness, anxiety, irritability, interference with sleep, and jitteriness. It works as a mild diuretic. Caffeine can cause headaches, but also, as a vasoconstrictor, has in certain instances been used to help relieve migraine headaches.
Caffeine consumption has been linked to short-term increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and to occasional irregular heartbeat. There are some studies linking coffee and caffeine to osteoporosis, but they have been largely inconclusive. But caffeine is not coffee’s only component. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that the coffee diterpenes cafestol and kahweol increase serum lipid levels (causing a rise in total cholesterol, low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides) and affect liver function
Coffee stirred up a debate shortly after it was discovered. The debate, like its aroma lingers on!
The good side of coffee
Series of systematic research has revealed that coffee in moderation may not be all that bad after all.. In fact, some studies indicate it may even have some health benefits and a moderation consumption may be recommended to be healthy. More than 19,000 dietary caffeine studies have been done, and many experts agree that moderate daily caffeine intake – 300 to 400 milligrams, about 3 to 4 cups of coffee – is not harmful. There is more good news about coffee.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA, “[s]everal large studies have shown that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease … in men, but studies in women have been inconclusive,” the latter perhaps due to the effects of hormone therapy for women. Researchers believe that caffeine’s helpful effect may be that it reduces the amount of dopamine depleted from the brain.
The September 2004 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch found that, for most people, moderate coffee consumption is safe. It also found that coffee drinkers might have a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer, and have a lower risk of liver damage for those at high risk for liver disease. A study, conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, examined data from the Nurses’ Health Study on women and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study on men. The data indicated there was no association between consumption of caffeinated coffee and the incidence of colon or rectal cancer.
Some more pros of coffee:
- Coffee makes life easier for asthmatics, it brings out bronchodilation or a widening of the air passages;
- Coffee protects the liver against the harmful effects of alcohol and reduces the risk of liver cancer;
- Coffee enhances the efficiency of antibiotics;
- Coffee is an excellent antioxidant capable of neutralizing oxygen free radicals that damage the cells. Therefore coffee can reduce the incidence of a number of serious diseases.
- Although caffeine causes more calcium to be excreted in the urine, the Osteoporosis Society of Canada says that two or three cups of coffee are not harmful if you get enough calcium in your daily diet. Dietitians recommend drinking a glass of milk for every mug of coffee
- European studies have shown that coffee consumption may increase serum cholesterol levels. However, that is due not to the caffeine but to substances called “cafestol” and “kahweol” found in the coffee’s oils. When drinking boiled, unfiltered coffee, as more Europeans do, these substances remain. So long as you drink filtered drip coffee or instant coffee, it may not affect your serum cholesterol levels. That’s because filters remove most of these substances, as does the process that goes into making instant coffee.
A Harvard study of 45,589 men, published in 1990, found no link between excessive coffee drinking and heart disease.
Go for it…..but watch the check point!
Researchers at the famous John Hopkins Institute say that one cup of coffee a day is supposedly enough for developing narcotic dependence. This is indeed to be monitored very carefully as caffeine, a key ingredient of the beverage, is a stimulant that can cause a temporary blood pressure elevation and a faster pulse rate. That is why persons with hypertension and heart problems were told to refrain from drinking coffee. Thus, while that morning cup of coffee may not do harm…make sure you are not the next coffeeholic!