In fact, I love coffee so much that I decided I would have to write a book about it someday. Well, that day has come! My latest book, Let’s get Coffee – The History & Health Benefits of Coffee has just hit Amazon.com and will be in bookstores everywhere over the next couple of months. If you are interested in getting a copy yourself just click on the title above.
I had so much fun tracing the history of coffee from its very beginning right on up until the present day that I had this book written in record time! I hope those of you who get your hands on a copy will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
The more research I do into nutrition and how the food and drinks we consume relate to our health, the more I discover that there is a simple truth that modern man has somehow gotten all screwed up. That simple truth is that the very thought of almost any food or drink being inherently bad for us is just plain hogwash! This is especially true when it comes to my morning java!
Before I share with you some of the health benefits that coffee has to offer I want to share with you a wonderful little story from the American Civil War that I uncovered while writing my book…
The 1860s also saw the outbreak of the American Civil War, brother was set against brother in a bloody war that really came to define the country as we know it today. Both the North and the South had many things in common, not the least of which was coffee, it was a favorite on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. Loved by both the Blue and the Gray!
One incredible story from those war years concerns a young man named Billy, and it was an act of heroism that would go down in history as one of the greatest coffee runs in of all time! You see, few things are as welcome to soldiers in camp or on the march, as a cup of fresh, hot, coffee. Somewhere amid the horror and bloodshed of one battle, a small act of kindness was rendered that would be remembered decades later.
The battle had begun before daylight, leaving harried soldiers no time for breakfast. By that afternoon, the Ohio boys had been fighting since day break and were trapped in the raging battle of Antietam, in September of 1862. Late in the afternoon a 19-year-old commissary sergeant with Company E, 23rd Ohio Infantry, decided he had to do something to ease the suffering of his comrades on the front lines. Bravely exposing himself to barrage after barrage of Confederate fire, he organized a mobile field kitchen and dodged bullets to move it up and down the line so that he could serve warm food and hot coffee to the suffering troops.
Today a monument at Antietam commemorates Billy’s battlefield service and includes a panel depicting him handing a welcome cup of steaming coffee to an exhauster soldier. As much as it is a memorial to that brave young soldier, it can also be seen as a monument to coffee, which was held in tremendous esteem during the war. As Billy scurried from position to position dodging enemy fire as he went, the men held out tin cups for Billy to fill, they gulped the brew and then started fighting again. “It was like putting a new regiment in the fight,” their officer recalled. It made a real difference.
Three decades later, Billy, that much appreciated and much remembered coffee boy, rode that singular act of caffeinated heroism straight into the White House, for you see, it turned out that Billy, the brave 19-year-old coffee boy, was none other than William McKinley, who became the 25th President of the United States.
At the time, no one found William McKinley’s act all that strange. For Union soldiers, and the lucky Confederates who could scrounge some, coffee fueled the war. Soldiers drank it before marches, after marches, on patrol, during combat. In their diaries, “coffee” appears more frequently than the words “rifle,” “cannon” or “bullet.” Ragged veterans and tired nurses agreed with one diarist: “Nobody can ‘soldier’ without coffee.”
What also made it fun was learning just how incredibly healthy my morning ‘cup of joe’ actually is. Those of you who have been following my blog for any length of time know that I am seriously all about phytonutrients, antioxidants and nutrition. It turns out that, for the average American, drinking their daily coffee if the number one way that they consume antioxidants!
When I was a kid, my parents refused to let me drink coffee because they believed it would “stunt my growth.” It turns out, of course, that this is a myth. Studies have failed, again and again, to show that coffee or caffeine consumption are related to reduced bone mass or how tall people are or will grow to be.
When I set out to look at the research on coffee and health, I thought I’d see it being associated with some good outcomes and some bad ones, mirroring the contradictory reports you can often find in the news media. This didn’t turn out to be the case.
Just last year, a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies looking at long-term consumption of coffee and the risk of cardiovascular disease was published. The researchers found 36 studies involving more than 1,270,000 participants. The combined data showed that those who consumed a moderate amount of coffee, about three to five cups a day, were at the lowest risk for problems. Those who consumed five or more cups a day had no higher risk than those who consumed none.
Of course, everything I’m saying here concerns coffee — black coffee. I am not talking about the mostly milk and sugar coffee-based beverages that lots of people consume. These could include, but aren’t limited to, things like:
- McDonald’s large mocha (500 calories, 17 grams of fat, 72 grams of carbohydrates)
- Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha (580 calories, 22 grams of fat, 79 grams of carbs)
- Large Dunkin’ Donuts frozen caramel coffee Coolatta (670 calories, 8 grams of fat, 144 grams of carbs)
- Cold Stone Creamery Gotta-Have-It-Sized Lotta Caramel Latte (1,790 calories, 90 grams of fat, 223 grams of carbs)
Regular brewed coffee, consumed black, has 5 or fewer calories and no fat or carbohydrates. Those numbers go up as you add things like cream or sugar.
Cut the Pain
Two cups of coffee can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%.
From the Journal of Pain, March 2007
Increase your fiber intake
A cup of brewed coffee represents a contribution of up to 1.8 grams of fiber of the recommended intake of 20-38 grams.
From the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Protection against cirrhosis of the liver
Of course, you could just cut down on the alcohol intake. From the Archives of Internal Medicine. Another more recent study also showed coffee’s liver protecting benefits. Yet another study showed that both coffee and decaffeinated coffee lowered the liver enzyme levels of coffee drinkers. This study was published in the Hepatology Journal.
Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Those who consumed 6 or more cups per day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. From the Archives of Internal Medicine. A recent review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup.
Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease
There is considerable evidence that caffeine may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. From the European Journal of Neurology.
Reduces suicide risk and Depression
A 10-year study of 86,000 female nurses shows a reduced risk of suicide in the coffee drinkers. From the Archives of Internal Medicine. Another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drink 4 or more cups of coffee were 20% less likely to suffer from depression.
Protection against Parkinson’s
People with Parkinson’s disease are less likely to be smokers and coffee drinkers than their healthy siblings. Just make sure you don’t get lung cancer on the way. From the Archives of Neurology. Even newer research out of Sweden revealed that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s even when genetic factors come into play.
Well it is time he called BS on that old myth.
This book covers the history of the discovery of coffee up through its arrival in the 21st Century. Joe talks about how coffee grew in popularity, how it spread to be enjoyed the world over, how coffee went to war and how it can bring you many, many health benefits with every sip you take...
“Let us raise our demitasse cups, our favorite old mugs, and our commuter cups to toast the thieves and smugglers to whom we truly owe our gratitude. These unsung and unsavory heroes set forth the proliferation of coffee throughout the world leading to the variety of coffees we cherish today. Let us thank those who, through the centuries toiled, battled, tinkered and seduced, all for that delectable cup of coffee! And for all of those who brought us to this wonderful place in coffee history, or for all of us who just enjoy our morning cup of java, this book is for you!”