Toi Degree: Is coffee good or bad for you?

  • Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 8:37 a.m.

Coffee - is it good or bad for me? Coffee has been blamed for many ills dating back to when we were young - as children we were told that if we drank coffee it would "stunt our growth" to the later claims that it causes heart disease and cancer. But recent research indicates that coffee might not be as bad as it was previously thought to be after all.
Recent studies have not found a link between coffee and increased risk of cancer or heart disease. So why is there the sudden reversal in thinking about drinking coffee now? When earlier studies were conducted they did not always take into account known high-risk behaviors such as smoking and physical inactivity that were common among heavy coffee drinker of that time.
Newer studies have also shown that coffee may in fact have several health benefits, such as protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Coffee also has a high content of antioxidants. So not only does coffee help clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet - the same antioxidants, which are thought to help battle cancer and provide other health benefits, which are also abundant in grains, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables.
This is good news for coffee drinkers like myself, but keep in mind that too much of a good thing is bad for you no matter what it is. Too much coffee can make some people jittery and even raise cholesterol levels, so food experts stress moderation. Moderation is always the key with everything that we eat and drink, so be moderate when you add things to your coffee as well. A plain cup of brewed coffee has only two calories and no fat... good deal right? But if you dress up your coffee with extras you are also adding extra calories.
Look at how many calories that one tablespoon of these extra can add to your coffee:
Heavy whipping cream - 52 calories
Table sugar - 49 calories
Half and half - 20 calories
Fat-free milk - 5 calories
I bet you had no idea that a tablespoon could carry so many calories did you? So now that you are aware of the health benefits that coffee provides, don't derail them by adding a lot of calories. Some coffee "drinks" are more like desserts and can have hundreds of calories. If you are a coffee drinker who enjoys trying new coffee drinks, you might want to check out the nutrition information provided online or by the coffee shop. Remember, all calories count - even liquid calories!
Just in case you didn't know, Sept. 29 is Coffee Day - treat yourself to a cup of your favorite coffee and enjoy!
To read more about the benefits of coffee visit:
Toi N. Degree is a family and consumer education agent for Rowan County Cooperative Extension. You may call her at 704-216-8970 or email her at

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