Food for Thought
Love your afternoon pick-me-up?
Published Thursday, 07-Jan-2010 in issue 1150
I know I do. The energy starts to dwindle after lunch and the savory smell of coffee from the local coffee house temps. We do love our coffee and the socializations it brings. For many years the negative side effects of coffee, that is the caffeine found there in, have been well publicized. Sleep deprivation, cravings, blood acalinity, anxiety, rapid heart beat, hand trembling, and stress inducement to name but a few. There have been more than 19,000 studies on caffeine and coffee in the past 30 years in an attempt to determine its exact effects on the human body. One of the most thorough and exhaustive studies was done by Harvard University, in which they examined 126,000 people over an 18-year period. The findings indicate that people who drink one to three cups of coffee a day are up to 9 percent less likely to contract diabetes. What’s interesting is what happened to those who drank six or more cups of coffee per day – men slashed their chances of contracting diabetes by 54 percent, and women by 30 percent.
Other studies have shown similar results in many facets of human health:
Regular coffee drinkers are 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s
Two cups a day gives you 20 percent less risk of colon cancer.
Two cups a day causes an 80 percent drop in cirrhosis.
Eight percent of the customers interviewed bought the largest size of a blended drink, which can boast 860 calories.
Two cups a day prevents gallstone development by 50 percent.
It has also shown to be beneficial in asthma, stopping headaches, boosting mood and even preventing cavities
“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world. “For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”
But there is a bad. It’s the calories. A blended coffee beverage might hit the spot and perk you up, but also pack on the pounds. A survey of about 3,000 purchases from 115 restaurant chains in New York City for example, found that servings of brewed coffee or tea average about 63 calories, even when some include milk and sugar. But get a blended beverage and you’re looking at 239 calories on average – 89 more than you’re likely to find in a can of soda. A large ice-blended beverage, meanwhile, can reach 750 calories or more. At one coffee chain, eight percent of the customers interviewed bought the largest size of a blended drink, which can boast 860 calories. Research suggests that 17 percent of U.S. adults buy one of these blended drinks each day.
What to do? Beverages such as coffee and tea can have fewer than 10 calories if you drink them black/sugarless. Low-fat or skim milk can help, too, as can getting a “small” size if the drink is sugar-sweetened and flavoring it yourself. One pump of flavoring is more than enough, but if you watch your barista, you’ll see three or four hit your mug. Best idea yet is to buy a gift card from your favorite coffee house as your monthly allotment, or budget if you will. Space out the splurges and use them as rewards for your week, weekend or month. A little can go along way. Once the card zero’s out, you’ll have to wait……yes wait, until next month to coffee up again. Fitness Together 619 794 0014.
Blake Beckcom is co-owner of Fitness Together, along with his wife Gwynn, in Mission Hills. For information on how to get started call 619-794-0014 or visit

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