Once upon a time, as legend has it, in Ethiopia, there lived a goatherd named Kaldi. One day as Kaldi was tending his herd, he noticed that some of his goats had been eating some berries from a nearby bush. A little while afterwards, the goats began to frolic around and were very energetic and excited. That night they did not want to go to sleep. Kaldi decided to gather some of these strange berries and try them himself. He boiled them and made a bitter, but energizing drink. Word spread about Kaldi’s discovery, and people all over started making and drinking this amazing black concoction. And then, once upon another time, in the 17th century, Kaldi’s black drink had made its way all the way up to Europe. It quickly became a popular drink, but it had it’s enemies. With the arrival of this drink to Venice in about 1615, many clergymen condemned it. Referring to it as the ‘devil’s brew’ or a ‘bitter invention of Satan,’ one group beseeched Pope Clemente the 7th to forbid its consumption by Christians. The Pope decided not to pass judgment on it until he had tasted it for himself. He found the drink so satisfying, it’s said, he was heard to exclaim, “This beverage is so good it would be a sin to let only unbelievers drink it!” You may have guessed by now the drink I’ve been alluding to. We drink it hot, cold, blended, Iced, Baked and frozen. Coffee.
Despite such strong papal approval, coffee still gets a bad reputation, but many experts say it should be the opposite. Various studies have found many benefits from regular coffee drinking, such as, reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and many other ailments.
First, results of a study by University Medical Center of Utrecht examined data on coffee consumption from 37,514 residents of The Netherlands who were followed for 13 years. They found that those who drank between two and four cups of coffee a day had a twenty percent lower risk of heart disease than those drinking less than two cups a day. Moderate Coffee intake also slightly lowered the risk of death from heart disease. The obvious protective effects may be due to the antioxidants and other plant chemicals found in coffee, although it is unclear how they work. There is also evidence that moderate coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Still, it’s too early to make specific recommendations on coffee and tea drinking for the sake of better health. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association noted the ongoing controversy over the health effects of daily coffee drinking. “Here is another study that reaffirms there is no increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and in fact, when drinking coffee in moderation, there is possibly a reduction in your risk of heart disease,” she wrote on behalf of the AHA. “Many people still have a lingering belief that coffee might be dangerous, because early studies suggested an increased risk of heart disease. said Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Some of those studies used self-reports from people after a heart attack, so there was a problem of “recall bias,” Hu noted. “Certainly, moderate consumption is not likely to cause harm in terms of cardiovascular health,” he concluded.
Next, in an article Published on the Mayo Clinic’s website Donald Hensrud, M.D. says “Newer studies have also shown that coffee may have benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson’s disease and liver cancer. It has a high content of antioxidants. But this doesn’t mean you should disregard the old maxim “Everything in moderation.” Hensrud goes on to point out that coffee is usually paired with cream and sugar, adding calories and fat, which can offset the benefits, but for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.
Also, The American Heart Association found that drinking at least two cups of coffee a day was associated with lower stroke risk among nonsmoking women in a long-term study. “The beneficial effects of coffee can only be applied to healthy people,” said Esther Lopez-Garcia, Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain.
And finally, more obscure sources such as WebMD also hinted at lower risks of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease and cancer, colon cancer, gallstones, prostate cancer, breast cancer and uterine cancer among coffee drinkers.
When it comes to coffee, as it turns out, a few cups a day could help keep the doctor away when it comes to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and many other ailments.
From goats in Ethiopia to Starbucks all over the world, Coffee has come a long way, and as it turns out, it’s actually pretty good for you.