Sunday, January 1, 2006

Is Coffee Good For Me?

Can’t do without your morning cup o’ joe? If you thought you were making a better choice by skipping the caffeine, you may want to think again. A report presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions back in November noted that excessive consumption of decaffeinated coffee may lead to an increase in LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, and thus, increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers from the Fuqua Heart Center in Atlanta stated that individuals who consume 3 to 6 cups of decaf a day may benefit from “a combined approach of diet, exercise, weight loss and cessation of decaffeinated coffee,” which could effectively reduce LDL levels by 30% and help avoid using drug therapy to treat high cholesterol.

Unfortunately, the moral of this story isn’t cut and dry. Researchers also found that if an individual is not overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) under 25, decaf coffee may decrease levels of ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) by 30%. In comparison, overweight individuals with a BMI above 25 presented beneficial HDL-raising results by nearly 50% from the consumption of decaf coffee.

What’s the bottom line? Evidence remains under investigation and each individual is different, personalized recommendations are best. Stick to 1-2 cups of coffee, decaf or regular, a day though and you’re in good shape. Keep those unwanted extra-pounds off with straight, black coffee or some skim milk with minimal sugar or sweetener. If you’re seeking to cut back on your caffeine cravings, try an Americano, espresso with hot water (espresso contains less caffeine than regular coffee). Or try a new twist in your daily routine and switch to green tea for a healthful change…a little caffeine goes a long way.

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