02 January, 2006

By Coffee Alone

Remember this post from October?

Well, David Darlington of In The Agora gives us yet another reason to chant the coffee mantra in the mornings.

Why? Apparently, coffee is actually good for us!

Read the article. Trust me on this one.
What has made nutrition experts rethink the pros and cons? Worrisome preliminary findings have been refuted by bigger, more rigorous studies. "A lot of early research was flawed," says Manfred Kroger, a now retired food scientist from Pennsylvania State University who has long been tracking it. "Coffee lovers are more likely to do harmful things like smoke and drink alcohol in excess, so coffee was often falsely incriminated."
But "if you're already drinking five or six cups a day, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a reason you should cut back," says Walter Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and a leading investigator of coffee.
Nutrition experts like Willett point out that, like tea, coffee is rich in antioxidants--substances in vegetables and fruits that deactivate disease-causing byproducts of the body's metabolism. "Coffee is by far the largest source of antioxidants in our diet," says Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. That's not just because we drink so much. In tests conducted at Vinson's lab, coffee topped the list of foods that are densest in antioxidants, surpassing blueberries, broccoli, and most other produce. Only chocolate, dried fruits, and dried beans ranked higher.
It is true that coffee contains a fatlike chemical, cafestol, known to raise cholesterol levels. But cafestol is mainly found in coffee made by the European method of boiling ground beans in water or the related "French press" method. Percolated or filtered coffee, favored by most Americans, removes the offending agent and does not hike cholesterol.
And lay off the decaf!
A word of caution: Decaf coffee may be an exception to this rule. A recent Stanford study found that even consumers of filtered decaf had modestly higher levels of fatty acids and other precursors of LDL, or bad cholesterol.

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