You’ve got to admit, we coffee drinkers are a bit quirky. We love waking up to a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee in winter, but when temps rise, we reach for the iced tea. In fact, iced tea is so popular with Americans—more than 85 percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. is iced—that the iced-tea spoon is a standard flatware in any cutlery set.
Iced coffee lacks the cachet of hot coffee, iced tea and energy drinks. Despite its thirst-quenching capabilities, only 10 percent of iced coffee consumption takes place in the U.S. according to a report published by Canadean. But the popularity of iced coffee is heating up, according to market researcher Mintel. Millenials, with their penchant for energy drinks, are guzzling the stuff.
Energy-boosting properties aside, there’s a more compelling reason to opt for iced coffee this summer: the drink may be good for you. Time was when coffee got the blame for just about every malady on the planet. But an increasing body of credible research indicates that coffee may be able to beat a host of life-threatening inflammatory diseases. What’s more, many of those benefits can be gotten from decaffeinated coffee as well. (Note: Decaffeinated coffee is not totally caffeine-free. It typically contains about 2 mg of caffeine.)
Here are some of the findings:
- Coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes
- Coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease
- Coffee may lower the risk of liver, colon and endometrial cancers
- Coffee may help prevent liver disease
- Coffee may be good for the heart
Researchers do not yet understand the reasons for coffee’s benefits but alternative medicine practitioners have some ideas. “Whenever you have something that grows from the earth and is richly colored, you can bet a dollar that the amount of antioxidants is more than the usual amount,” says Dr. Ellen Feingold of the Homeopathy Center of Delaware in North Wilmington. “The antioxidants in coffee are concentrated to a high degree because it’s a very dark color—a black/blue—and that color advertises the level of its antioxidants.”
Indeed, researchers have identified more than 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans and hundreds resulting from the roasting process. Coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in our diet, according to a study by researchers at the University of Scranton. Need more proof? Consider the findings of more recent studies:
- Coffee may lower the risk of stroke
- High coffee intake may reduce the recurrence or slower the progression of prostate cancer
- Coffee may protect our eyes against diseases that can cause blindness
- Tinnitus and depression are less common in women who drink more coffee
- Drinking up to five ups of coffee a day may help prevent atherosclerosis
- Coffee may lower the risk for Alzheimer’s disease
Coffee may also help us live longer. A National Institutes of Health study found a 10 percent lower risk of dying from any cause—except cancer—among those who drank several cups of coffee a day. Experts do caution, however, that coffee is not for everyone, especially those who suffer from migraines, anxiety disorders, gastro-intestinal problems, endometriosis, hypertension, insomnia and cardiac arrhythmias. Pregnant women should also limit their total daily caffeine intake to 200 milligrams a day.
And if you suffer from insomnia, coffee may not be your cup of … uh, coffee. Otherwise, happy sipping.