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Sound Mind and Body –– Coffee: Friend or Foe?

Robin Street

Robin Street teaches journalism and public relations at the University of Mississippi. She is also a freelance journalist specializing in preventive health, fitness, nutrition and mental health. She has a master’s degrees in both journalism and wellness from Ole Miss.

Go ahead and pour a cup of coffee to drink while you read this.

Your health will thank you.  More and more research is finding that your coffee-drinking habit is actually good for you.

So, with a few exceptions, you can take drinking coffee off your list of things to feel guilty about. So here’s the “scoop” on coffee.

Coffee contains anti-oxidants.

Coffee is said the greatest source of anti-oxidants in the U.S. because we drink so much of it and eat so few fruits and vegetables.

It may help protect you from death from heart attack and stroke.

In a large study, people who drank between two and five cups a day had a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death compared to people who drank less than one cup a month.

It can decrease your risk of diabetes.

In a study of 88,000 women in the Nurses Health study, researchers found that the women who drank at least two cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of diabetes.

It can help your mood and even fight depression.

Caffeine makes you feel more alert and energetic. That’s not news. But in a study of more than 50,000 women, researchers found that the risk of clinical depression went down as the amount of coffee the women reported drinking went up.

Drinking coffee before you exercise can help you work out longer unless you have heart disease.

Studies have found that people who drink coffee before they exercise can exercise longer and feel as if the exercise is easier.

However, people with heart disease should be careful because another study found that drinking about two cups of coffee before exercise could possibly put them at risk because it can reduce the flow of blood to the heart.

Don’t forget: that coffee cup may contain some problems, too. 

If you’re sensitive to caffeine, coffee can interfere with your sleep, especially if you drink it later in the day.

Other problems caffeine can cause include increasing the amount of calcium you excrete, interfering with some medications, causing heartburn and leading to problems for pregnant women. So if you have health problems, discuss your coffee habit with your physician.

But for most folks, it’s coffee-cup bottoms up.

As with anything, moderation seems to be best. But for most people, drinking coffee is one less thing to worry about.

Sources: Consumer Reports on Health, Berkeley Wellness Letter American Dietetics Association, Web M.D.,

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