Coffee Benefits, According to Ayurveda
According to the National Coffee Association, coffee is one of the most sought-after commodities in the world. The history of drinking coffee begins with an Ethiopian goat herder who first discovered the effects of coffee beans when he noticed that his goats would dine on the beans and forego sleep. He shared this observation with a monk in a local monastery. The monk boiled the beans, yielding a fluid that enabled him to stay alert through evening prayer. Soon, all the monks began drinking the coffee bean liquid––a secret that spread to the rest of the Arabian Peninsula, and then throughout the world.
Risks of Coffee
Throughout history, dietitians and physicians have warned about the risks of drinking coffee, mainly its ability to cause an increase in blood pressure or hypertension. However, current research does not support this perceived risk. Regular coffee drinkers seem to “regulate” themselves. In a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, after routine consumption of coffee (2 to 3 cups daily) for two weeks, the body adjusts, and the hypertensive effect is no longer observed.
Hypertension is considered bad because it can lead to cardiovascular and kidney disease. The American Journal study, however, found that in women, despite the short-term increase in blood pressure, drinking coffee is associated with a decreased chance of having a stroke. The researchers also noted that the effect does not seem to be due to caffeine, since other caffeine-containing beverages such as tea and soda were not correlated with stroke risk. Instead, the protective effect seems to be due to something else—components aside from the caffeine—but this requires study.
Coffee components can also affect the body’s ability to metabolize drugs; it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor or pharmacist about potentially negative interactions.
Benefits of Coffee
The coffee bean is a powerhouse of polyphenol activity. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants that have high antioxidant activity, combating damage-causing free radicals (unstable molecules that can harm DNA and proteins) from the inside out.
Chlorogenic acid, or CGA, is thought to be the most abundant polyphenol of the coffee bean. Unfortunately, CGA is depleted through the bean-roasting process. However, the average medium-roast coffee still contains approximately 50 percent of the CGA present in the original coffee bean. CGA is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may be the leading factor behind many health benefits observed in regular coffee drinkers.
Benefits attributed to regular coffee consumption include:
- Improved brain function in terms of memory and thinking skills
- Lower risk of type II diabetes
- Lower risk of dementia and Parkinson’s disease
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower rates of liver and colorectal cancer