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Healthy Geezer: Coffee concerns

Q. I keep hearing about how bad coffee is for you. I also hear about how good coffee is for you. What gives?

The average American drinks more than 400 cups of coffee a year. How this popular beverage affects our health is an important issue.

Let’s start with the bad part.

For the general population, the evidence suggests that coffee drinking doesn’t have any serious detrimental health effects.

According to Dr. Rob van Dam, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, drinking up to six cups of coffee a day is not associated with an increased risk of death from any cause.

Van Dam warns that pregnant women and those who find it difficult to control their blood pressure or blood sugar may want to avoid coffee or switch to decaf.

“If you’re drinking so much coffee that you get tremors, have sleeping problems, or feel stressed and uncomfortable, then obviously you’re drinking too much coffee,” van Dam said.

“But in terms of effects on mortality or other health factors, we don’t see any negative effects of consuming up to six cups of coffee a day,” said van Dam.

The cup he’s talking about is an eight-ouncer with 100 mg of caffeine, not one of those grandes you get at Starbucks, which can keep you awake until Stephen Colbert goes off the air.

OK, what about the good part?

Some research suggests that drinking coffee may protect against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, several cancers, liver cirrhosis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s a summary from van Dam: “Coffee may have potential health benefits, but more research needs to be done.”

When studying the effects of coffee, the focus is not just on the caffeine in the brew. Coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds that can impact your health.

There is another health issue that doesn’t receive much publicity. How you brew your coffee has an effect upon LDL cholesterol, also known as the bad cholesterol.

Coffee contains substances that raise LDL levels in your body. Brewing coffee with a paper filter removes these substances.

Single-serve coffee pods, such as those used in a Keurig coffee maker, contain filters.

Other methods of coffee preparation, such as the French press, espresso or boiling, put the substances in your cup.

Have a question? Email: fred@healthygeezer.com. Order “How To Be A Healthy Geezer,” 218-page compilation of columns: healthygeezer.com

All Rights Reserved &Copy; 2020 Fred Cicetti

The Times News, Inc., and affiliates (Lehigh Valley Press) do not endorse or recommend any medical products, processes, or services or provide medical advice. The views of the columnist and column do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Lehigh Valley Press. The article content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, or other qualified health-care provider, with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.