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Friday, November 05, 2010

Coffee: The Good News

Welcome to HSPH Nutrition Source Update, an e-letter to help you cut through confusing information and find practical strategies for healthy eating.

November 2010
Coffee: The good news

coffee cup

More than half of American adults drink coffee every day. Recent scientific studies suggest moderate consumption may help reduce some disease risks. Learn about some of coffee's possible health benefits, compare caffeine levels in popular beverages, and get the scoop on coffee's downsides in this interactive graphic.

According to HSPH coffee expert Rob van Dam, coffee is more than just a vehicle for caffeine. It's actually full of hundreds of compounds that can lead to diverse health outcomes.

"That's why we do studies on very specific health effects--for example, studies of how coffee affects the risk of diabetes--but we also conduct studies looking at coffee consumption and mortality over a long period of time, which better reflects the overall health effect."

A few key findings:

  • Drinking up to six cups a day of coffee is not associated with increased risk of death from any cause.

  • Some people may still want to consider avoiding coffee or switching to decaf, especially women who are pregnant, or people who have a hard time controlling their blood pressure or blood sugar.

  • It's best to brew coffee with a paper filter, to remove a substance that causes increases in LDL--that is, bad--cholesterol.
Healthy Beverage Guidelines
Try it at home
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Of all the foods we eat, fruit contributes the least amount of sodium to the average American's diet, yet most Americans fall short of the goal of eating three or more servings of fruit a day. One strategy for incorporating more fruit into your diet is to eat fruit for dessert, or to create desserts that are mostly fruit. The addition of whole grains, nuts, and olive oil make this a very satisfying dessert your family and guests will enjoy.

Did you know?
While it's impossible to set a single requirement for how much water the hypothetical average American needs each day, the popular advice to "drink eight glasses of water every day" would fulfill most of a person's fluid requirement.
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