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A Touch of Wellbeing
A Wellness Blog for Busy People

Java - Go For It!

We have been hearing a lot of inconsistencies of late regarding coffee. Should we, or shouldn't we? Well, it turns out, like most things in life, moderation is the key. Most experts agree two cups of filtered drip coffee per day is completely safe for almost everyone, including pregnant women. (Although I would not push that. Get your physician’s approval please.)

First, let's talk benefits. One word: antioxidants. There are numerous antioxidants in coffee connected to protecting against colon cancer, liver cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Coffee consumption has also been linked to brain benefits regarding verbal recall, memory, and decreasing the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Apparently, it has to do with the caffeine which may stimulate dopamine, the brain chemical lacking in Parkinson's Disease. Some research has shown protection against gallstones, kidney stones, and lower uric acid levels in sufferers of gout.

On the other hand, use caution with the intake of caffeine if you have any type of sleep disturbance, gastroesophageal reflux disease (acid reflux or heartburn), migraines, arrhythmias, or benign fibrocystic breast disease. In these circumstances, you should check with your physician.

So how and from where do we get that nice hot cup of ambition? Well according to Wikipedia, coffee is a brewed beverage with a distinct aroma and flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the Coffea plant. The seeds are found in coffee "cherries", which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Click here for a full history of coffee.

Green (unroasted) coffee is one of the most traded agricultural commodities in the world. Coffee is slightly acidic (5.0–5.1 pH) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most consumed beverages in the world and was likely first discovered in the northeast region of Ethiopia. Coffee cultivation first took place in southern Arabia; the earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking appears in the middle of the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen.

The best choice for health is black or plain coffee. But coffee is bitter, so we fill it up with a bunch of junk! We can get into real trouble with specialty coffees and coffee drinks like lattes, Frappuccino, or unfiltered coffees. Also, watch out for creamers that are full of artificial additives, high fructose corn syrup, and/or hydrogenated oils. If you must have a little "cream", try 2% milk, any of the plant milks like soy, almond, coconut, or good old Half & Half.

Vanilla soy milk and vanilla coconut milk may be enough for that extra bit of sweetener that some coffee drinkers require. Otherwise, try a more natural sweetener but less of it. For example, raw natural cane sugar, a touch of 100% pure maple syrup, 100% pure agave, or local raw honey. If you must use a sugar substitute, try Stevia, a natural herb. I recommend the brand name Stevia, found in the vitamin aisle, or "Stevia In The Raw", found in the sugar aisle.

Lastly, coffee does influence the environment. Buy coffee that is Fair Trade Certified (FTC) to guarantee the farmers who grow the beans are paid a fair price, provide for environmental sustainability, ensure the least number of harmful pesticides, and are usually organic. Additionally, look for "Shade Grown" on the label for additional "green" benefits. OK, go ahead and have another cup of Joe and enjoy!

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