It's the moment many of us coffee junkies have been waiting for. Today, word on the street was that some health-related studies suggest that your morning cup of joe may very well be good for you, but that's not all. It also showed that java fixes are Americans' No. 1 source of the healthy benefits.
Tea -- which many of us might consider coffee's weaker cousin -- has long been associated with antioxidant properties, particularly in the green tea variety. Although tea has its fans, coffee is well-known for its high-octane caffeine jolt that has addicted so many people. Today we learned not only that coffee contains a large dose of antioxidants, which are thought to fight off cancer and heart disease, but also that many people gain a lion's share of their antioxidants from coffee.
Way back in March 2004, I wrote about studies that suggested that coffee consumption could lower the chances of adult-onset diabetes, although the study also suggested that people would have to ingest rather large amounts of coffee in order to see any health benefits.
Despite the evidence that Americans are getting more of their antioxidants from coffee than from any other food, experts who were interviewed in many of the articles stressed the importance of gaining the health benefits of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. (Of the top 10 sources of antioxidants, not only did understandable foods such as black tea, apples, and tomatoes make the list, but so did another product many people enjoy -- beer.)
At any rate, the study spells nominal good news for companies that rely on consumers' taste for coffee. The first companies that come to mind are, of course, Starbucks
And of course, it's certainly better than any findings that might show health risks related to a coffee habit. There has been some linkage of coffee to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, as well as side effects many of us may be aware of, such as jitters and elevated stress levels -- and, as I've said before, the social stigma of talking way too much, way too fast.
On the other hand, over the last couple of years, I for one have learned to take such studies with a grain of salt. It seems that there's always some study somewhere that says something you ingest is good for you, and then over the course of several years, studies will come back that refute that view. For example, recent studies said that vitamin E, long thought to be heart-healthy and a cancer preventative, might not really make the difference once thought.
That's OK, though, as long as nothing comes between many of us and our precious cups of joe. (And for those of us who have loaded up on shares of coffee-centric plays like Starbucks and Peet's, it's nice to know that they're still not entering the realm of "sin stocks.") The bottom line: Grind up those beans, brew that pot of java, and enjoy.
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Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks and is a bona fide caffeine fanatic.