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I'm not up to six yet(cups of coffee) and I don't think I should play around with something as dangerous as type two diabetes.

Coffee, Tea, and Antioxidants

If you are like me your day can’t begin without coffee. Some of you dishonour your coffee by changing its flavour with cream and sugar, but not me. The darker, the stronger, the better as far as I’m concerned.

Coffee and caffeine are seen by most as not being particularly healthy for you. Too much can cause anxiety, damage your stomach lining and even raise your cholesterol level. It appears to be another one of those things we enjoy that’s bad for us.

But now comes the news that coffee is actually good for you. According to a studypublished by Joe Vinson a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in the diet of most Americans.

Through a careful study of eating habits he was able to deduce that coffee contributed more than five times the amount of antioxidants to people’s diets then the next major contributor, tea. Now the down side (of course there is a down side, you didn’t think we’d get off that easy) is that it really means that most of us aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables which are a healthier source for antioxidants.

They also threw the word moderation into the mix. Which means that although a person like me who may drink upwards of ten cups of coffee in a day, would not only receive the benefits of a huge amount of antioxidants in my diet, but could be risking damage of another sort. It is recommended that you try and diversify your intake of antioxidants by eating other items high in them like dates, cranberries and red grapes.

Now if you are like me and clutch at straws when it comes to encouraging news about your eating habits this is still a reason for celebration. Finally something I like is good for me. But, what are antioxidants and what are they supposed to do? Quite frankly this is the first time that I have even heard of them.

It seems that antioxidants work to combat those notorious free radicals which seem to have nothing to do with politics, and everything to do with the development of disease. They appear to be responsible for everything from emphysema, cancers, and heart disease.

What I found of especial interest was that it’s the radicals in cigarette smoke that are responsible for the development of emphysema. Now I understand the whole coffee and cigarette thing. It’s not like we all thought, that the coffee makes us want the cigarette, it’s the other way around. Whenever we smoke a cigarette our body demands we counter the nasty free radicals being released into our system with a cup of antioxidant full coffee.

I just love it when things make sense.

In theory antioxidants prevent the oxidation of other chemicals, which is the process that produces the free radicals that can cause damage to the body’s cells at a molecular level. In practice not everyone is so sure that antioxidants on their own are sufficient to be the miracle cure some are hoping for.

According to Bonnie Liebman, nutrition director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, most experts are looking beyond antioxidants to a combination of foods, vitamins, and minerals that actually fight free radicals. But even if it turns out that coffee isn’t the killer of free radicals and life saver in that area other revelations have come to light which will make those morning, mid-morning, afternoon, and evening cups of coffee seem justified.

Japanese researchers reported in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” that people who drank coffee on a daily basis significantly reduced their chances of getting liver cancer. Last year scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that coffee drinking significantly reduced the chances of getting type two diabetes. Men who drank more than six cups a day reduced their risk by nearly 50% while women who drank the same amount had a 30% less chance of catching the same disease.

You know places like donut shops have to be congratulated for their far sightedness and quality of care. All this time they have been ensuring that no matter how much sugar their customers have eaten, they are being given an antidote at the same time.

It’s 8:50am right now, and I’m feeling a little susceptible, I better play it safe and make myself another coffee. I’m not up to six yet and I don’t think I should play around with something as dangerous as type two diabetes. Neither should you. Stop whatever it is you are doing and go have a coffee. Remember, if anyone gives you a hard time, tell them it’s for medicinal reasons.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.

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