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Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Benefits of drinking coffee

Many of you likely start your morning with a cup of coffee. On Monday morning, we discussed the potential health benefits of each cup with Dr. Alicia Arnold.

Meghan Kulig: Let's start with some recent research about the effects of coffee on memory.

Dr. Arnold: A recent study in Nature Neuroscience compared memory skills between individuals who didn't regularly drink caffeine but consumed about the amount of caffeine in a large cup of coffee and individuals who didn't have caffeine. They found the people who had caffeine demonstrated superior performance of particular memory skills compared to those who had not had caffeine.

Meghan Kulig: Did higher levels of caffeine improve the result?

Dr. Arnold: They found that 200 mg was the optimal amount of caffeine. A smaller amount of 100 mg wasn't enough to see a difference, and at 300 mg, there were some reported side-effects, like headaches and feeling jittery.

Meghan Kulig: Can you tell us about some other potential benefits of coffee?

Dr. Arnold: A study in 2012 found that consuming coffee actually was associated with a lower risk of mortality. There was a lower risk of some pretty common conditions like deaths from heart disease, lung disease, and infections.

Meghan Kulig: I'm sure coffee drinkers are smiling about those statistics. Has coffee been shown to have any potential effects on disease prevention?

Dr. Arnold: There is some evidence that suggests that caffeine may also help to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, lower your risk for oral cancer, and even decrease your risk for developing dementia. Coffee also contains antioxidants.

Meghan Kulig: Coffee can have negative effects too, like making you jittery?

Dr. Arnold: Caffeine affects everyone differently, and can cause unwanted effects of anxiety or insomnia in some people. It also has the potential to cause other side effects such as raising blood pressure in those who don't drink it on a regular basis or bringing on irregular heart rhythms in some people. Cutting back on caffeine can also cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and irritability. Statistics show that more than 80 percent of Americans drink coffee, so there are lots of java lovers in our country who think the benefits outweigh the risks.


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