Who would’ve thought that the fountain of youth could be found right in your very own kitchen — and right under your nose? Your morning cup of coffee provides more than just a kick in the pants to get going in the morning, it also has positive affects on your noodle!
Studies have shown that drinking at least three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife can cut Alzheimer’s risk 65 percent in late life.
A July 2011 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that ‘coffee seems to have an unidentified ingredient that combines with caffeine to reduce brain levels of beta-amyloid — the abnormal protein that is thought to cause the disease,’ published the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
In early studies, USF researchers believed that caffeine was probably the ingredient that provides protection because it decreases brain production of beta-amyloid. However, the same study also claims that it may not be the caffeine itself but a combination of the caffeine and coffee’s compounds that, when combined, increases blood levels of a growth factor called GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor). Alzheimer patients are known to have low levels of GCSF.
In their studies, long term treatment with coffee enhanced levels of GCSF and memory in mice with Alzheimer’s. Three key benefits researchers found were:
- GCSF recruits stem cells from bone marrow to enter the brain and remove the harmful beta-amyloid protein that initiates the disease
- GSCF creates new connections between brain cells
- GCSF increases the birth of new neurons in the brain
While this has only been tested and verified on mice, it does demonstrate that coffee can have a strong impact on the progression of Alzheimer’s, to the extent that it’s worth more study. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, one of the study’s lead authors, said, ‘Together these actions appear to give coffee an amazing potential to protect against Alzheimer’s — but only if you drink moderate amounts of caffeinated coffee.’
But who’s to say adding those extra cups of coffee won’t give you a memory like an elephant when you’re in your 90s? Better safe than sorry.
Still trying to decide what to get your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? Look no further than your resident coffee pot!
Seattle’s Best Coffee released survey results last week in which 32% of coffee drinkers surveyed recommend bonding over morning coffee to keep a relationship healthy. In fact, coffee was significantly more likely to be recommended than the usual suspects of flowers, dinner at a nice restaurant and jewelry.
This may have something to do with the physiological effects of coffee consumption. Caffeine blocks certain receptors, allowing dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with desire) to roam more freely. Romantic, eh?
So don’t panic if you haven’t written your loved one a poem or made outrageously fabulous plans for the day. After all, you’re doing something that will strengthen your relationship all year long!
Sometimes you just don’t want too much extra skip in your step, but you’re not willing to give up the flavor of a great cup of coffee. We asked the crew to blind taste the four different decaf coffees we carry — Lavazza, illy, Caffe Mauro and Velton’s — to determine which ones they thought tasted like a good, solid cup of coffee.
If you’re interested in learning about the different methods used to decaffeinate coffee, you can check out this article we wrote a couple of years ago.
A new spin on an old sugary stand-by, Espresso Chocolate Bark takes your grandma’s signature Peppermint Bark recipe and gives its a caffeinated kick. All you’ll need is three simple ingredients to create this buzzworthy treat.
- 1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup whole coffee beans
- 2 tablespoons coarse cane sugar
- Melt down the chocolate chips and lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray.
- Spread out the chocolate to be about 1/2 an inch thick.
- Sprinkle on the coffee beans evenly and press them into the hot chocolate gently.
- Lightly sprinkle a layer of sugar over the chocolate while it is still melted. Don’t worry about even layering since most of it will shake off when it’s dried. Just make sure to cover all of the chocolate.
- You can either let the chocolate harden at room temperature or speed the process up by putting it in the refrigerator.
- When it’s hardened, tilt the large piece of chocolate to shake off all the excess sugar. Break the chocolate into single-sized chunks.
Recipe: The Wannabe Chef
For those of you who’ve been trying to find a legitimate excuse to cut down on your coffee intake for health reasons, hold that thought for a second and thank UCLA researchers who’ve given all of us another reason why we shouldn’t kick that caffeine habit quite yet.
For quite some time now, researchers have had an inkling that coffee has had a connection with preventing type 2 diabetes. And in fact they were right.
What researchers have found is that caffeine aficionados were least likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as the java works as a protective agent by increasing the plasma levels of sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHGB). The SHGB protein regulates the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen which has been long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
As Science Daily reported, after Atsushi Goto, UCLA doctoral student in epidemiology, and Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine with joint appointments at the UCLA School of Public Health and the David Geffen School, tested 359 new diabetes cases with 359 said to be healthy controls out of 40,000 women varying in both age and race, “they found women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day had significantly higher levels of SHBG than did non-drinkers and were 56 percent less likely to develop diabetes than were non-drinkers,” explained Mark Wheeler of the UC Newsroom.
“Early studies have consistently shown that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes,” Liu said. “That is the greater the consumption the lesser the risk of diabetes. It was thought that coffee may improve the body’s tolerance to glucose by increasing metabolism or improving its tolerance to insulin.”
Liu adds, they now know that SHBG is indeed critical as an early target for assessing the risk and prevention of the onset of diabetes. They now know the protein can be influenced by dietary factors like coffee intake in affecting diabetes risk. The lower the levels of SHBG, the greater the risk beyond any known diabetes factor.
But diabetes prevention is only the beginning of the health benefits coffee may give us. In a number of other studies, one in particular published in the Wall Street Journal and referenced by Top News, coffee has been found to possess antimicrobial agents that aid in the prevention of tooth decay. Other studies have said it decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases in women by no less than 24 percent, protects men from Parkinson’s disease while also increasing their metabolism and may also help the condition of short-term memory loss and is a helpful factor in aiding headaches.
So before you back away from that latte, just remember that one cup of espresso can provide you with loads of health benefits, so you might as well ask your barista for that double shot.
In follow-up to his seminal work on professional espresso preparation, The Professional Barista’s Handbook, Scott Rao takes on all the other forms of coffee brewing and gives them their day in the sun. Broken up into three main parts, and supported by a thorough reference bibliography for folks that want to read more, Everything but Espresso covers the following:
- Part One: Coffee extraction, measurement and methods on improving flavor by changing the brewing parameters
- Part Two: How to achieve optimal flavor via different brew methods (such as drip, pour over, press pot, steeping and vacuum pot)
- Part Three: Proper water chemistry and bean storage
If you’re either an espresso aficionado who wants to spread their wings or someone who cherishes their old press pot, this book is the definitive guide to making the best possible brew at home.
We get so wrapped up in the cornucopia of flavors it offers that we sometimes forget that coffee is also a drug delivery device. Caffeine is widely consumed around the world and is the stimulant of choice for many folks in the morning to get their day going or for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Like so many things in life these days, the geeks have taken the intake of caffeine to the limit and devised a guide on how to get the most out of it. This is a fun and fact-filled read that will teach you some tips on how to keep your caffeine use high and tight.
If you’re expecting to head to Rwanda and sample some of their world-renowned coffee, you’ll most likely be sorely disappointed in the cup of coffee you end up with. This is true of many of the coffee producing countries of the world, who actually have a relatively small population of actual coffee drinkers. The majority of their coffee is exported around the world — and you’ll probably find a tastier cup in Finland than you will in Ethiopia.
At the end of April, Bloomberg reported (from Euromonitor) the most avid coffee drinking countries in the world, measured by the quantity consumed in liters per capita. We took that, put it in a table and assigned each country a general region, as well, so you can sort it and see which parts of the world are the biggest coffee connoisseurs.
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The caffeine contained in your daily dose of java may play a part in keeping your eyes in check. A recent study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that caffeine might provide protection against the lens damage that can lead to the formation of cataracts.
They engaged in two different studies:
The team studied the oxyradical effects in vitro by incubating mice lenses in medium exposed UVA in the presence of kynurenine with and without caffeine. In vivo studies were conducted in rats by incorporating caffeine with galactose in their diet. In both cases, caffeine was found to be effective in protecting the lens against damage. (Source)
Yet another reason to enjoy your morning cuppa — if you needed another one, that is.
Addiction can be a lonely place. Whether we hide our vices or not — stealing a secret cigarette while the wife isn’t looking, sipping a sly cocktail at the end of the bar by ourselves or knocking back a few shots of espresso despite our doctor’s orders — it can sometimes feel isolating. But we should take some comfort in the fact that we are, in fact, not alone. At least, not in nature.
Joining the ranks of our friendly Russian drunk chimpanzee Rostov (who was recently sent to rehab to break his boozing and smoking ways) are our favorite little pollinators: Bees! A study conducted by the University of Haifa found that bees had a preference for nectar that included trace amounts of caffeine and/or nicotine in it. When we first ran across this story, we thought, ‘of course, coffee cherry flowers would have caffeine in them’ but we were surprised to learn that nicotine and caffeine chemicals are found in the flowers of many fruits — even grapefruit (which has some of the highest concentration around)!
Scientists created synthetic nectar (which is comprised of sugars) that was neutral, had caffeine or had nicotine and then let the bees loose. They were able to then track the bees’ preference for the nectar with the caffeine or nicotine over the neutral, sugar-only nectar. The assumption is that this evolutionary development on behalf of the flowers in question was to create an addictive relationship, thus spurring the bees to visit often and spread the pollen far and wide.
So there you have it — the next time you’re ruing your addiction to caffeine, know that you are in great company.
(And, while it’s not often we wish we were a talented illustrator, this story should have been accompanied by an illustration of a greasy looking bee with a five o’clock shadow, a cup of coffee and a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. If you are a talented illustrator, there’s a free bag of Velton’s Bonsai Blend in it for you if you can draft something and send it our way.)