Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: Coffee is Good for You! Yay!

This post (and one to follow - you'll see when it happens) are dedicated to my friend Jeremy, aka the Trimethyldioxypurist. His blog is very cryptic lately, but his SFist articles are not, and if you want to know about coffee and/or Top Chef, he is your man.

So I think it will be gratifying to him to know, and it certainly is a relief for me to know, that of all my bad habits, coffee may not actually be that bad, as Food Technology magazine reports in its January issue. No, I do not read Food Technology magazine, jeez. But I do listen to the "Science Talk" podcast (I told you I was a nerd). And Roger A. Clemens, who co-wrote the magazine article was interviewed about coffee.

It seems that after 30 years of studies, the preponderance of evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption, which is defined as 3-5 cups per day, can reduce your risk of certain diseases, in particular:

  • Type 2 Diabetes: Now I know all of my readers are responsible eaters, but the fact remains that more of us are having to cope with adult onset diabetes. And it's not just things like eating processed foods that can cause it, but hormonal imbalances and any number of environmental factors that inhibit the body's ability to process glucose. Consumption of 3-6 cups per day, and up to 10 cups per day showed dramatic decreases in adult onset diabetes, with lesser effects for lesser amounts of coffee consumed. In the case of diabetes, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee showed benefits, which was attributed to the presence in both of antioxidants, lignans and magnesium.
  • Cancer: Both naturally occurring and heat-produced antioxidants can cause a reduced risk of cancer in coffee drinkers and in many countries coffee is the number one source of dietary antioxidants.
  • Liver Disease: Studies have also shown that phenolics (aromatic compounds similar to alcohol) and related compounds reduce the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis and liver disease.
  • Parkinson's Disease: Studies also link the neuroprotective effect of caffeine consumption in men and post-menopausal women with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Studies suggest that just one cup of coffee per day can half your risk of developing this disease. Caffeine may be a mechanism by which brain cells are protected and conserved from the disease.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Some previous studies have suggested an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in those with high coffee consumption. A recent and comprehensive 20 year study shows no evidence that coffee increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Other Beneficial Effects: Studies have also shown that coffee increases mental alertness, cognitive functions, wakefulness and physical stamina, and reduces the risk of Alzheimer's, kidney stones, gall stones, depression and suicide.
The weirdest part of the study, as I learned from the Podcast, is that coffee is actually very beneficial to athletes and their athletic performance. Of course you have to be a pretty hardcore athlete to get these particular benefits, but I'm thinking maybe I should go get coffee right before my 7 a.m. kickboxing class, rather than right after. I'll think about it, but that means waking up really freaking early.

So I guess I'm going to keep on drinking coffee, adrenals be damned. I really want to not have diabetes, cancer, Parkinson's liver disease, etc.


dude, I just posted this superlong not about coffee and saying thanks and all that. AGGGH it was lost somehow.

In brief:
-- Thanks so much for the dedication/shoutout. You humble me.
-- Coffee as a health food is a weird thing--studies seem to contradict this every few years/months. The secret, in our opinion, is to just enjoy it in moderation, using as high-quality of a product and preperation as you can. If you dig coffee, educate yourself on it; try new methods and new roasts.

In any case, I will endeavor reverse my trend -- to make my SFist posts cryptic and full of nuance, and make my own blog clear as a ringing bell (or something). Thanks again.

said by Jeremy at 12:18 PM Delete

You're welcome my dear.

I think part of the problem with coffee is that most people drink it with lots of sugar and cream/milk. I think that's generally the worst part of coffee, healthwise. Also, the roast is very important as far as the health of coffee. If you are drinking weird instant coffee or burnt coffee (ahem, Starbucks) then you are probably not getting all those beneficial antioxidants. But I'm not sure of the exact mechanics.

And of course, simply because coffee may reduce your risks of some things, doesn't mean the caffeine isn't fucking with you in other ways.

I mean ... five cups of coffee a day? That's a lot.

I love how you said "in our opinion" like you are writing an SFist article. You had better watch out that you don't start doing all of your articulate writing in the collective voice.

said by KT at 12:29 PM Delete

Oh, man--I've defaulted to the collective voice. It's a sad, sad day.

said by Jeremy at 2:22 PM Delete


I've decided that good or bad, I LOVE my coffee and I'll continue to drink my usual 3--5 cups a day. As you know, a few months ago I started mixing decaf (yucky and boring) into my regular (tasty and flavorful) blend. After weeks and weeks of boring brew, I'm back to my regular blessed coffee. The only difference I noted during that period was that my stomach was giving me difficulty. After I quit the decaf the stomach ills ceased. Juan Valdez is my personal hero.

said by Acme Instant Food at 3:40 PM Delete

Well, the study was very clear that the caffeine was a major part of the health benefits so I think dumping the decaf was the right thing to do.

You really had no choice.

said by KT at 4:05 PM Delete

You're telling me you don't get double your daily dose as a lawyer? The amount of coffee and tea I drink in a day as a software engineer is staggering. I'll bet you can top me.

said by Chubbypanda at 11:42 PM Delete

Actually, no ... I always mean to get more coffee, but then I never get up from my desk. It takes until I am about to fall asleep before I get up to finally go get coffee. Most days I only drink one cup of coffee, in the morning. Sometimes I have one in the afternoon also if I get really sleepy.

said by KT at 12:27 AM Delete

oh gosh, i can't even get into my car in the morning without at least one cup in me. otherwise, i will kill people while driving.

coffee, i love you!

said by Milla at 9:18 AM Delete

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