Don’t knock the java juice

Adria Barbour

Coffee could be helping your health, experts say

Terry Paul, senior fine arts major, relishes the first sip of his iced coffee. Coffee, in its various forms, helps many college students get through their days. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

“Grande mocha, grande cappuccino, grande mocha!” the attendant called out over a noisy crowd.

A long line went into the Starbucks on the corner of East Main and Lincoln streets. Professionals in suits alongside the most alternative of co-eds waited in line in anticipation of the next shout out.

Lively conversations floated around the pseudo-dining room as bits of sunlight streamed through amber foliage and diagonal paned windows.

“Venti cinnamon mocha, grande caramel macchiato, pumpkin spice latte!” she called.

The color orange lined the condiment counter, as well as the CD rack, the promotional mini-posters and the menu with new Pumpkin Spice products, signaling the approach of autumn.

Or maybe, in this fast-paced world of caffeine, it has already arrived. But what are the health benefits of ingesting such high amounts of the java juice?

“You can also argue that stopping by a Sheetz and getting a coffee can save your life,” joked Raymond Leone, chief university physician at DeWeese Health Center. “I mean, that’s healthy,”

The only benefits he said he knows of are in regards to treating migraines and asthma because caffeine increases circulation in the body.

“A migraine has to do with blood vessel spasms in the brain,” he said. “Caffeine smooths that out.”

In regards to asthma, he said, mothers in the past have given their asthmatic children coffee to soothe their attacks.

“It’s not good enough to treat asthma on a long-term basis, but it opens up the bronchia a bit,” Leone said. “It’s really the caffeine, though, and not the coffee itself.”

Other potential benefits include raising low blood pressure, which can also simulate circulation, he said.

Leone added most pain medications are sedating, so pharmaceutical companies put caffeine in the medication to counter the sedatives.

Colin Newell, editor and creator of, said there is no food value to a cup of black coffee.

“No calories, no carbs, nothing,” he said. “It is not that it’s not really good for you – it’s just not that bad for you.”

Newell also said a few sips of coffee with a meal aids digestion. Other studies have popped up in the last few years toting the probable benefits of coffee.

A 2006 review called “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes,” by Rob M. van Dam and Frank B. Hu of Harvard University, found nine studies correlating higher intake of coffee with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes.

The study also revealed the risk of contracting cirrhosis of the liver was lessened by drinking more coffee.

Another study done in 2000 by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in Honolulu stated that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of Parkinson’s disease, though the study didn’t determine the exact reason for the link between the two.

Researchers from the University of Scranton found Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source, surpassing fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants have their own benefits, such as protection against cancer and heart disease, according to the National Coffee Association.

Despite these enthusiastic reviews of coffee, overdoing it can be detrimental to your health.

“You’ve had too much coffee when it’s to the point where you get headaches and have to take constant bathroom breaks,” said Andrew Yamashiro, senior visual graphic design major. “It’s too much when it starts coming out of your pores and you smell like coffee. I had a couple of friends who have done that. The human body doesn’t make a good filter.”

Kristin Cancelliere, a Starbucks cashier, said how much is too much coffee depends on the person.

“Too much coffee in my opinion is when one drinks so much coffee it gives them the jitters,” she said. “Caffeine is a stimulant and should be used in moderation according (to) individual needs.”

Latasha Edwards, junior community health education major, said she knew of someone who had no breakfast, just coffee.

Leone advised against such practices.

“You need to eat,” he said. “Coffee can be an appetite suppressant. People shouldn’t substitute coffee for sleep or food. I know some people say, ‘Oh I can’t wake up without my coffee,’ and sometimes that may be the case. But if you substitute it for something that is healthy, it can be harmful.”

He said a person’s urine can have a distinctive smell when a person drinks too much coffee because caffeine normally leaves the body through urination. People should take everything in moderation.

Whether a person is drinking a few sips or a few cups a day, Leone doesn’t recommend changing one’s coffee habits if a person is drinking in moderation.

Because the studies on health benefits of coffee are new and exact links haven’t been established in many of them, it is not exactly known why or how these links exist. It is just known that coffee has been associated with a lower risk of some ailments.

Contact features correspondent Adria Barbour at [email protected].