In 1992, during a hospital stay after my diagnosis with diabetes, I was faced for the first time with a meal that, at that time, was institutionally considered nutritious: undressed turkey, steamed vegetables, a boiled potato, diet Jello. No salt, no butter, no sweets. Worst of all: no caffeine in the coffee.
Feeling all hope bleed out of me, I implored the dietician, “Could I just have one cup of real coffee? One?” (Insulin, I could deal with. But a life with no coffee?)
“Honey, have as much coffee as you like,” she said, to my great relief. “Everyone needs a vice, and this is not such a bad one.”
That’s become almost a mantra for me, and I’ve embraced coffee like a maniac. Turns out, though, it may be less a vice than a health virtue*:
- People who drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day had an elasticity of major blood vessels around 25% higher than those who drink little or no coffee
- Compared to not drinking coffee, at least 2 cups daily can translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gallstones
- At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease
- A study published in the journal Circulation looked at data on more than 83,000 women older than 24. It showed that those who drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee/day had a 19% lower risk of stroke than those who drank almost none. A Finnish study found similar results for men
*Data are from GeekStats (search term: coffee).
So now I might be looking for a new vice, one that tastes as good.
Picture-perfect coffee drunk by me at b espresso, Toronto, in August 2010.