Dear Reno: I have heard that it is good to drink coffee. If so, can you explain? Thank you. – D.P.

All coffee drinkers will agree how wonderful it is to wake up  in the mornings to the aroma of coffee brewing, also how great it tastes and that coffee gives a good start to the day ahead.

If you are like most people, you drink coffee for the caffeine content or as a daily habit. But do you ever stop to think what it does for your health?

Coffee has its perks, but it can pose problems, too.

Many studies have been conducted and research has shown that compared to nondrinkers, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. It is also proven to be beneficial for the brain.

Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, alleviates tiredness and fatigue and can also improve concentration and focus.

Caffeine content may or may not help in some diseases, but other nutrients found in coffee are of benefit. Coffee has good anti-oxidant properties and minerals such as magnesium and chromium, all of which are good for the body.

One does not need to drink gallons of coffee to see the benefits. Drinking two to three cups per day is just fine. Also beware of extra calories and saturated fats from adding sugars, creamers and cream; use low fat or skim milk instead. Remember that caffeine is also a mild diuretic and will make you urinate more frequently.

Some people are more sensitive to caffeine and even one cup a day may cause problems. Drinking coffee may have adverse effects such as risk of gastritis, migraine headaches, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety, irritability and insomnia.

For such people the benefits of drinking coffee or caffeine are not worth the risks involved.

Check with your medical practitioner whether caffeine intake will affect your medications. Some over-the-counter medications, beverages and sodas contain caffeine. Read labels for caffeine content, especially if you need to watch your caffeine intake.

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Reno Jain, R.D., L.D., C.D.E., is a registered and licensed dietitian at Labette Health in Parsons. She will answer reader questions on nutrition and wellness. She regrets that she is unable to answer individual questions, but will answer them in her column as possible. Send questions to: askreno@labettehealth.

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