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Coffee black if you please

Published May 19th, 2010 in Eat for Health

Coffee black if you please

By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, BCIH, CNC, CNW, CNH

Coffee is the second largest commodity traded next to oil.  Coffee comes from an evergreen tree that produces red cherries or beans. The most coffee consumed comes from Arabica or Robusta varieties of beans. Arabica beans count for seventy percent of the worlds coffee production.  Robusta coffee comes from South East Asia and Brazil, and contains about fifty percent more caffeine them Arabica and has a stronger bitter taste.

Coffee is as much a part of the Pacific Northwest life style as trees. We have our own distinct coffee culture here, Starbucks®, Dutch Brothers®, Jitters, Java Hut, Holy Grounds…. The names are sometimes the most interesting flavor being offered.

For those of us in our dotage… i.e. anyone over thirty, we might have been told coffee was for adults only – it will put hair on your chest (one of my dad’s ways of discouraging girl children from trying something deemed for adults). As I have seen the spread of coffee consumption along with pop, I can now see the wisdom of his words.

Africans fueled up on protein-rich coffee-and-animal-fat balls—primitive PowerBars®—and unwound with wine made from coffee-berry pulp. Coffee later crossed the Red Sea to Arabia, coffee as we know it started in Arabia, where roasted beans were first brewed around A.D. 1000. By the 13th century Muslims were drinking coffee religiously. The “bean broth” drove dervishes into orbit, kept worshippers awake, and splashed over into secular life, wherever Islam went, coffee went too: North Africa the eastern Mediterranean, and India.

Arabia made export beans infertile by parching or boiling, and it is said that no coffee seed sprouted outside Africa or Arabia until the 1600s—until an Indian pilgrim-cum-smuggler left Mecca with fertile seeds strapped to his belly. The beans took root and agricultural expansions soon reached Europe’s colonies, a merchant of Venice introduced Europe to coffee in 1615. The Dutch were the first to successfully transport a coffee plant into Europe in 1616, then in 1696 they founded the first European-owned coffee estate, on colonial Java, now part of Indonesia. 1727, Brazil’s government wanted a cut of the coffee market; they need an agent to smuggle seeds from a coffee country, Lt. Col. Francisco de Melo Palheta, accomplished the task and is sighted as the James Bond of Beans by National Geographic®. In French Guiana, ostensibly to mediate a border dispute, Palheta chooses a path of pleasant resistance—the governor’s wife. At a state farewell dinner she presented him a sly token of affection: a bouquet spiked with seedlings. By the 1800 Brazil’s monster harvests would turn coffee from an elite indulgence into a drink for the people.

Should I or Shouldn’t I

Moderate intake of coffee is about three, 6 ounce cups per day – yes you read that right that is a total of 18 ounces daily.  Coffee doesn’t contain any significant amounts of vitamins or minerals, but it does contain anti-oxidants that rate higher than most other foods.  An average cup of coffee contains between 60 and 130mg of caffeine. Coffee is a stimulant as are soda pops containing caffeine. Stimulants affect the brain and central nerves’ system, some good some bad. Asthmatics may find they can breathe better, headache sufferers can speed the relief provided by aspirin by taking it with coffee or black tea. Coffee consumption has been found to be beneficial for reducing inflammation and heart disease in non caffeine sensitive postmenopausal women. One study also found that elderly men had less memory loss when consuming three cups of coffee daily. The University of Arizona found that drinking decaffeinated coffee had just the reverse effect.

Coffee consumption increases fibrocystic breast disease, hypertension, dehydration, sleep disturbances, acid indigestion, and if the only way you drink coffee is with all the flavorings, sugar and additives you can be increasing your asthma restriction, rising your blood sugars and gaining weight  from increases in stress hormones and calories.  If the flavors are the only way you can drink coffee find a better way to wake up, one that helps your brain work better not jitterer, watch the time of day you drink coffee also.  Remember coffee is a burden to your kidneys, for every cup of coffee you drink, your kidneys need one quart of water to flush and prevent kidney stone formation.  As with everything, enjoy that cup (6-12oz) of coffee, cut the flavors and drink in moderation, select high quality fragrant organic brands.

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