Nancy Dell: Too much coffee; Health benefits of beer


1. I love my coffee but I worry that I drink too much. Is it bad for me?
Nina, Internet

Patients often comment to me that they think coffee is bad for them. Contrary to popular belief, coffee can be good for you. Like all plants, the coffee bean is a powerful source of antioxidants that can reduce your risk of disease.

People who drink at least 1 cup of coffee a day have a 37 percent lower risk of early death from any disease. Drinking at least 2 cups a day cuts your risk of dying from a heart attack 25 percent. If you enjoy 3 cups or more a day, you are 65 percent less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  And for those real coffee lovers who drink at least 4 cups of coffee a day, you cut your risk of Type 2 Diabetes 56 percent.

The list goes on. Studies also show coffee drinkers have less risk of prostate cancer, stroke, liver cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and coffee appears to preserve your eyesight.

If you are sensitive to caffeine and it keeps you from sleeping, gives you a headache, the jitters, or high blood pressure, then drink decaf. Otherwise, research shows decaf is not necessary.

2. I drink more beer than wine in the summer. Can beer have some health benefits like wine has?
Maria, Internet 

In moderation, beer can be good for you. The alcohol in beer, like any alcohol, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease because it can thin the blood and reduce inflammation in the body. Less inflammation means it may also help with arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.

But beer has some unique health benefits – benefits different from any other alcohol. First, beer may be good for your bones. Researchers at Tufts University studied nearly 3000 men and women.  They found those who had 1 or 2 beers a day had higher bone densities than non-drinkers. The researchers speculate that the mineral silicon in beer helps to build stronger bones.

Women with hot flashes may benefit from beer. Beer is made from hops, and hops contain natural estrogens, as soy does.

Of course beer lovers need to practice moderation. Experts recommend a maximum of 1 beer a day for women and 2 a day for men.

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