Coffee: Positive- Negative Effects

Many have difficulties to begin their day without consuming a cup of coffee.  The question that arises is: Does coffee have positive effects on the human body or should it be avoided?

When the intake of coffee is kept to a maximum of 1-2 cups daily its effects are positive.  A Harvard University research suggested that women who consume 1-2 cups of filter coffee have reduced chances of developing breast cancer.  Other researches also support that coffee reduces the chances of developing colon cancer. The main reason that coffee is considered to protect against various forms of cancer is due to its richness in antioxidants that protect the genetic material of cells from free radicals which cause diseases and premature ageing. Asthmatics may benefit from consuming a small amount of coffee as it contains a substance called theophylline which relaxes the bronchial muscles. The daily consumption of 1-2 cups of coffee also reduces the chance of gall and kidney stones, the occurrence of liver cirrhosis, provides relieve from some allergies and reduces the likelihood of developing type II diabetes by 30%.  It also acts as a stimulant and helps concentration.

Filter coffee, according to various surveys, is much more beneficial than the instant one. It is known that coffee itself has no calories but when combined with sugar, cream, caramel and various syrups adds calories that result in fat accumulation.

Increased amounts of coffee intake can cause a number of long-term problems to the human body. When suffering with hypertension coffee should be limited as it increases blood pressure.  Also, patients with heart problems should limit their coffee intake as it may increase blood lipids and cause atherosclerosis a condition in which artery walls thicken as the result of a build-up of fatty materials.

Excessive coffee intake reduces iron absorption and thus increases the risk of osteoporosis.  In some, coffee can also cause palpitations, anxiety, insomnia and intense headaches. It is suggested that pregnant women limit coffee to its minimum due to the fact that they are more likely to develop hypertension.  Excessive coffee intake during pregnancy may also lead to premature birth or even miscarriage.

Overall, the daily consumption of 1-2 cups of coffee has a positive impact on the human body.  On the contrary, when consumed in high quantities it can cause numerous problems therefore a moderate intake is advised.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian

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