Well latest news is that its good for you....

No mention of the side effects of upgradeitis tho :)


Elin McCoy

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- For years coffee has gotten a bad rap, blamed for everything from high blood pressure to cancer and often perceived as an unhealthy drug only slightly less sinful than alcohol. At a recent coffee symposium in a New York espresso bar and gallery, scientists insisted its time to forget the scare stories and start thinking of the beverage as a health drink.

``Theres no compelling evidence that shows coffee is harmful, and every day theres more evidence that its beneficial, reported Dr. Peter R. Martin, a psychiatrist and professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he heads the Institute for Coffee Studies.

A couple of cups a day are now thought to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases like Type II diabetes, protect against certain cancers, and even enhance endurance during long physical workouts.

This was upbeat news for espresso aficionados like me -- I was happily sipping one as I listened -- as well as for the millions who depend on a jolt of caffeine from a cup of java to kick-start the day. According to the International Coffee Organization in London, more than $70 billion of coffee is sold around the world annually.

Coffee Books

The sponsor of ``Pleasure and Physiology: Why are we drinking coffee? was giant family-owned Italian coffee company Illycaffe SpA, which, of course, has a vested interest in spreading the news about the beverages health benefits. It has brought its single-coffee blend and the Italian culture of espresso to some 130 countries, whose restaurants and coffee bars serve 5 million cups of Illy espresso every day.

Symposium attendees gathered at Galleria Illy in Soho, where the vaulted skylit space, multicolored home-espresso machines, library of coffee books, and large spiral sculpture of colorful espresso cups hanging above our heads seemed an appropriate setting for provocative discussions about coffee, health and taste.

Dr. Ernesto Illy, a chemist and honorary chairman of Illycaffe, taste expert Linda Bartoshuk of the Yale School of Medicine and Martin shared the microphone.

Sophia Loren

A bald, energetic and healthy-looking 80-year-old who drinks four cups a day, Illy co-founded the Institute for Scientic Information on Coffee, and has written much about its complex chemical composition. He calculates there have been some 17,000 scientific papers published on coffee and caffeine in the past 25 years. Research into coffees positive effects have been more recent, with about 150 articles in the past 10 years.

``Caffeine is a kind of Sophia Loren that everybody wants to interview and investigate, said Illy, who pointed out that negative effects found in earlier, outdated studies were based on extremely high doses.

The small amount of caffeine in one or two cups of coffee has positive short-term effects; it is thought to stimulate the brain, improve short-term memory and creative thinking, increase alertness and concentration, and give feelings of well-being that may prevent depression.

Prevents Disease?

Espresso has slightly less caffeine than regular coffee. Because it takes fewer than 30 seconds to brew, less caffeine is extracted from the roasted and ground coffee.

``Coffee is not just caffeine, Martin reminded us. ``It contains many other constituents, and roasting and brewing bring out a new collection of complex compounds.

Martin is intrigued by just what else in coffee could be responsible for its benefits. Population studies show an association between moderate consumption of coffee and a lower incidence of common illnesses like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, heart disease, cancer, and possibly even alcohol and drug addiction.

Martin is betting that this is partly due to the chlorgenic acids in coffee, but admits that ``we dont know exactly why.

Professor Joe Vinson and his research team at University of Scranton in Pennsylvania may have discovered one answer: All coffee, whether a shot of espresso, a paper cup of Colombian laced with half-and-half, or an after-dinner decaf, is rich in antioxidants, which are also found in vegetables, fruits, tea and red wine. These antioxidants work against substances called free radicals, which damage cells and are implicated in just about every disease you can think of.

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