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The Buzz on Coffee

The latest research shows your morning pick-me-up may be brimming with health benefits.
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Coffee also contains trigonelline, an antibacterial compound that not only gives it a wonderful aroma but may be a factor in preventing dental caries.

Caffeine is another ingredient that offers health benefits. In the Parkinson's studies, evidence points to caffeine as the factor at work in retarding the disease. Caffeine also helps ease head pain, which is why it's widely used in headache medications.

Caffeine can stimulate the brain and nervous system, and thus help fight fatigue and boost athletic performance. Two cups of coffee can usually give you an athletic boost.

Caffeine Caution

Researchers are quick to point out that caffeine is a drug, and can be abused if you use it in place of a good night's rest or a healthy diet.

The caffeine content of coffee varies widely, depending on the bean used, the size of your cup, and how it is brewed. A standard 8-ounce cup of drip coffee has 85 milligrams of caffeine, while a standard dose of pain reliever with caffeine usually has 120 milligrams.

We each have our own thresholds for caffeine. Most people can tolerate two cups of coffee each day with no problem. But more than that may cause nervousness, rapid heartbeat, palpitations, sleeplessness, and irritability. It can even lead to health problems such as osteoporosis or high blood pressure. Of course, if you skip your usual morning cup, you can develop a caffeine withdrawal headache.

While coffee is the main source of caffeine for many people, it's also found in energy drinks, soft drinks, tea, chocolate, and over-the-counter cold and headache medicines. All these sources can add substantially to your daily caffeine total.

You might be surprised to learn that the "energy" from the popular energy drinks comes in part from their caffeine content. Energy drinks are not required to list their caffeine content on their labels, even though they can have twice as much as caffeinated soft drinks. So consumers have no way of knowing just how much caffeine they're getting. If you're a fan of energy drinks, contact the manufacturer or go to its web site to learn how much caffeine is in your favorite drink.

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