Coffee and Healthy in the Same Sentence? Apparently So

As researchers continue to examine the health benefits of coffee, the old way of thinking concerning the beverage has changed over the last few years. Health care professionals have even begun to recommend it for certain ailments such as migraines, and have recommended it for use as a stimulant for weight loss, athletic endeavors, or other needs.

In the past, coffee was accused of causing such things as stunted growth, heart disease, and cancer, but more recent studies have shown that people who drink large amounts of coffee are actually less likely to suffer from these diseases. In fact, after examining many coffee studies, Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, reported, "Basically, the more coffee, the lower the risk of diabetes. People who drink three to five cups of coffee a day enjoyed a significant reduction in type 2 diabetes."

Studies on the effects of coffee also indicate that consumption of coffee appears to benefit people who might otherwise suffer with heart problems, strokes, and other diseases. This may be due in part to the fact that reducing the chance for diabetes also makes these other concerns less likely.

Researchers say it is important to note that the drug caffeine, which is contained in coffee naturally, was not the main contributing factor for coffee staving off such illnesses, as it seems that decaffeinated coffee offers similar benefits.

In fact, since caffeine tends to raise blood pressure and stimulate the "fight or flight" response, this was one reason it was previously sworn off by people at risk for heart problems or strokes. However, studies have also indicated that coffee drinkers are actually less likely to be hospitalized for such troubles overall, and have also been linked to lower instances of Parkinson's and even dementia.

Here's something to keep in mind before you run out and buy a huge vat of coffee and down the drink: While coffee itself contains very few calories, it's a bad idea to dump in a pound of sugar and half-a-cow's worth of cream, which are fattening when over-used. You may also want to stay closer to the bathroom after imbibing your brew, since it's been proven to cause more frequent trips.

Here's a little more information of caffeine so you can decide if it might be better to leave it in or take it out:

Coffee or sleep? Now there's a REAL tough choice.