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Coffee Has More than One “Perk!”

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This past weekend, on the front page of the NY Times Sunday Styles section, reporter Jeff Gordinier shared an interview with author Dan Buettner. Buettner’s latest book “The Blue Zones” explores the eating habits of the inhabitants of five place where people “forget to die” and consistently live to be 100.

And according to Buettner, coffee is one of America’s biggest diet source of disease-fighting antioxidants, making a cup of Joe a healthy choice.

If possible longevity is not enough of a perk, what are the others?

  • Increases concentration: Coffee is our main source of caffeine, a stimulant. After you ingest a cup of coffee, your adrenaline supply increases as does your blood pressure, heart rate as well as your concentration. There are studies that indicate that drinking a cup of two of coffee before an exam may boost performance.

  • Increases the effectiveness of your workout: A recent article in Men’s Health indicated drinking coffee before exercising may increase the effectiveness of your workout, and the antioxidants may aid in weight loss. On a personal note, I enjoy a double espresso every morning a half-hour before my workout.

  • Stimulates alertness: On the chemical level, caffeine is structurally similar to adenosine, a chemical that makes us sleepy. When we drink coffee, caffeine binds to our brain’s adenosine receptors, preventing the chemical from binding to the receptors, thereby keeping us from feeling tired.

  • Relieves Constipation: Coffee can minimize sugar absorption and relieve constipation. But it can also increase stomach aches. Drinking caffeine does increase fluid loss which is why you need to drink two 8-ounce cups of water for every cup of coffee you drink.

  • Promotes positive feelings: Caffeine also prevents dopamine, from getting reabsorbed into your system, leaving the feel-good chemical hanging around in your brain longer. But the dopamine effect is what makes coffee addictive so limit your daily intake to limit addiction and avoid the jitters.

Buettner also advocates red wine in moderation and long walks. I will definitely drink to that.

Wonder if Ponce De Leon knew that the fountain of youth for which he was searching was filled with coffee?

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