Down through the ages, learned men have extolled coffee’s health benefits. Coffee, wrote the 11th century Islamic philosopher Ibn Sinna, “cleans up the skin, dries up the humidities that are under it, and gives an excellent smell to all the body.” Another Arabic scholar observed that healthy coffee “is by experience found to conduce the drying of colds, persistent coughs and catarrh, and to unblock constipation and provoke urination,” going on to say that it also “allays high blood pressure, and is good against smallpox and measles.”
In 1582, the German physician Leonhard Rauwolf described coffee as “very good in illness, especially of the stomach. Those who attempted to blame coffee for illness rather than credit coffee’s health benefits met with staunch opposition. As the renowned 18th century French philosopher Voltaire observed late in his life when told that coffee was a poison, “I have been poisoning myself for more than eighty years, and I am not yet dead.”
Long-Term Coffee Health Benefits
To be sure, any good thing—which coffee most certainly should be considered—can become a bad thing when enjoyed in excess. But reputable medical studies continue to offer evidence that find among long term coffee drinkers coffee health benefits in abundance, some attributable to its caffeine content, others to different substances present in a cup of coffee. Consider a random sampling of the evidence:
In some cases, caffeinated coffee has been found to ease asthma symptoms.
Coffee consumption may reduce risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver in heavy drinkers.
Studies have found a 25 percent reduction in colon cancer risk among people drinking at least 2 cups of coffee daily.
Gallstone production has been found to be less frequent among regular coffee drinkers.
Several medical studies, including one at Harvard University, found that drinking coffee may decrease the risk of developing type-II diabetes.
While coffee can be a migraine trigger for some sufferers, other studies have found certain migraine drugs to be more effective in combination with coffee.
Several studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
Regular coffee consumption may lower the risk of suicide in women.
In addition, coffee has been found to be abundant in anti-oxidants, the micronutrients that have been found not only to fight certain forms of cancer but also to slow the aging process. So demographics alone may not explain the fact that there seem to be more and more young coffee drinkers; it may just be that coffee drinking makes people younger and younger!
Short-Term Benefits—and Some Cautions
Such long-term coffee health benefits may continue to be studied and debated for years to come. Meanwhile, you shouldn’t forget the short-term health benefits of coffee, too, many of which may be attributable to its key active ingredients, caffeine. Coffee can keep a person awake and alert longer, a benefit for people who have to work late. And professional athletes have been found to perform better and longer after drinking coffee.
Remember, however, that none of coffee’s benefits should be reason to overindulge in coffee. When dealing with any medical challenge, always check with a doctor first. Bear in mind, too, that the coffee has been found to affect some people with high blood pressure, and to raise blood cholesterol levels in certain individuals. Pregnant women and people with cardiovascular disease or at risk for osteoporosis should also check with their doctors before drinking coffee.
How Many Carbs are in Flavored Coffee?
Low-carbohydrate dieters rejoice: Plain brewed coffee or espresso are remarkably low-carb coffee drinks! (So, surprisingly, are sweetly flavored coffee beans—but more on that later!) A generous 12-ounce serving of plain brewed coffee contains just 1 carbohydrate gram; so does a single espresso. Enrich that coffee or espresso with a drizzle of unsweetened cream or a dollop of foam from steamed milk and you add virtually no carbohydrates.
Whole milk, nonfat milk, low-fat milk, or soymilk, being higher in carbohydrates that fat-rich cream, up the coffee carb count. A 12-ounce nonfat cappuccino, for example, contains 11 carb grams, 1g more than the same drink made with whole milk; a nonfat caffè latte of the same size has 18 carbohydrate grams, and 16 grams when made with whole milk.
The carbohydrates go up even higher when you add sweet flavorings or enrichments to your coffee drinks. For example, a 12-ounce mocha latte, made with whole milk and chocolate syrup, contains 34 carb grams, 16 grams more than a drink without that syrup.
Now back to flavored coffee beans, made by infusing roasted coffee beans with concentrated flavor extracts. Whether you buy chocolate raspberry cream coffee beans or hazelnut coffee beans, French vanilla coffee beans or macadamia nut coffee beans, Viennese cinnamon coffee beans or white chocolate coffee beans, those flavorings add hardly any extra carbohydrates to those already present in the coffee, regardless of the flavor combination. A 12-ounce cup of flavored coffee, served black, might contain at most 2 carbohydrate grams, only 1 gram more than an unflavored cup of black coffee and well within the guidelines of low-carbohydrate diets. So feel free to go ahead and brew up some flavored beans and enjoy a very low-carbohydrate coffee start to your day or a low-carbohydrate dessert after dinner—just so long as you don’t add any sugar or too much milk to your cup!