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Drink Up: The Health Benefits of Coffee

Drink Up: The Health Benefits of Coffee

One of the things I look forward to each morning is a cup of fresh-brewed coffee. In fact, I enjoy it so much I often list it as one of the three things I am grateful for each week. My morning Joe helps me to ease into my routine; it is my time to be quiet and savor the beginning of a new day.

What I have learned is that I am not alone, 54 percent of all adults in the United States drink coffee daily. If you fall into that category, you may be happy to learn that coffee drinking is a healthy habit. Coffee is full of disease-fighting antioxidants, as are many other plants. Yes, we often forget that coffee is actually a plant. The coffee bean contains more than 1,000 naturally occurring substances called “phytochemicals.” They are antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals in your body.

Drinking coffee has also been shown to reduce tooth cavities, boost athletic performance, improve mood, and stop headaches. It also can reduce your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes, lower cancer risk, prevent strokes, and fight off Parkinson disease. Coffee also improves cognitive function as we age.

So how much coffee do we need to drink each day to reap these wonderful benefits?

Researchers have found that for those who drink four to six cups per day, versus only two or fewer, their risk for Type 2 diabetes decreased by almost 30 percent. The number decreases by 35 percent for people who drink more than six cups per day. Of course, my first thought when I read this was four to six cups a day is too much. I’d be bouncing off the walls. The good news is the benefits are the same if you drink decaffeinated coffee.

Regular black coffee only has two calories so it’s a great alternative beverage to soft drinks or energy drinks. The federal dietary guidelines state that up to five cups of coffee a day are in line with a healthy diet. But make sure you go easy on the cream, sugar and other additives… We don’t want to turn a healthy habit into something that negates the good!

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Synergy of walnuts is powerful

walnuts-1213008_1920“Synergy” is an old word that came back into its own in the late-1970s, and perhaps is more significant now than ever when it comes to healthy living. It refers to elements working together to achieve a result greater than the sum of its parts.

Take walnuts for example. Eating them on a regular basis slows the growth of breast cancer, a problem of which I have had first-hand experience. A walnut is a powerhouse of plant elements that include omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants that include Vitamin E and melatonin (for healthy skin and better sleep), and plant hormones. Each of these chemicals in a walnut is a proven cancer fighter. All together they are anti-cancer dynamite for any type of cancer.

This also underscores the importance of consuming whole foods rather than just food components, often produced in pill form and sold over the counter. In other words, the synergy of whole foods provides far more health benefits than merely the vitamins, fatty acids, hormones and other elements on their own.

Walnuts are prevalent in a Mediterranean diet, which is proven to be one of the healthiest regimes the world has ever known. It should also be noted that walnuts are especially effective in lowering inflammation in the human body — which is critical in diminishing any cancer threat. Walnuts also contain traces of copper, potassium and magnesium — all of which together with other elements, including melatonin, are synergy superlatives.

Health experts recommend that each of us should consume 1-3 ounces of walnuts daily. That’s approximately 10-30 walnut pieces. It’s also important to remember that walnuts are highly perishable, so store them in closed containers away from heat and light to prevent their oils from becoming rancid. Seal seeds, nuts and oils in glass jars and place them in your refrigerator for longer shelf life.

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