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Coffee's Surprising Health Benefits

The humble coffee bean boasts plenty of health benefits -- and boosts the flavor of our chili recipe!
By Andrea Gabrick
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Legend has it that coffee was discovered around 850 A.D. in Ethiopia by a goatherd who observed that his animals were unusually lively after eating bright-red berries. Inside those berries were the coffee beans that later went on a global journey. Now, with more than 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is the world’s most popular beverage. Coffee has been studied for more than a century and claims a number of health benefits (as well as some risks). Your daily cup of joe may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. It also packs a powerful punch of antioxidants. In fact, Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other food or beverage. (Want other good sources of antioxidants? You can get your fill of these immune-boosting natural nutrients from artichokes, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, and potatoes.)

With just two calories per 8-ounce cup (no cream or sugar) and no fat, coffee is a pretty guilt-free way to boost your health. But don’t overdo it. More than 2 or 3 cups daily may increase blood pressure, especially in those with borderline or high readings.

Three-Bean and Coffee Chili

Makes 8 entrée-sized servings

¼ cup olive oil

3 large onions, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup chili powder

¼ cup ground cumin

2 tbsp dried oregano leaves

2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes (with purée)

2 tbsp honey

1 cup strong coffee 

2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed, drained

2 15-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained

1 roasted red pepper, seeded and chopped

1 cup chicken stock (can substitute tomato juice or light beer)

1 tsp each: salt, cayenne pepper, ground cinnamon

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  2. Mix in chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Mix in tomatoes, honey, and coffee. Add drained beans, red pepper, chicken stock, and remaining spices. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 60 minutes uncovered or until mixture thickens.
  4. If mixture consistency is too thin, use a potato masher or immersion blender to smash a portion of beans to thicken the chili.
  5. Optional: Top with nonfat sour cream, chopped avocado, grated low-fat cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, or jalapeño peppers.

Per serving: 403 calories, 19 g protein, 63 g carbohydrate, 8.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 1 mg cholesterol, 15.5 g fiber, 1,824 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 19%.

Reviewed on January 15, 2009

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