Caffeinating the 60 Blog

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Louisa May Alcott:  I’d rather take coffee than compliments just now. 

JOE is one of my favorite words to play at Words with Friends.  It’s worth at least twelve points and it always makes me want to drink another cup of coffee.

Did you hear the news?  Coffee could actually be good for you!  Don’t feel bad about pouring yourself that extra cup of joe tomorrow morning.  A study out this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people who drank a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die from cancer, stroke and diabetes as well as heart, kidney and respiratory disease than non-drinkers. And the more java, the better: People who had up to three cups a day were 18 percent less likely to perish from those conditions, according to the study.

The research, conducted by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute, looked specifically at about 186,000 people who were black, Native Hawaiian, white, Japanese American and Latino. And at least one researcher suggested the findings could apply to other demographics as well.

The study used data from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC), a large research program funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. Between 1993 and 1996, the MEC study enrolled more than 215,000 people aged 45 to 75. A questionnaire upon enrollment gathered information about lifestyle, diet, health history and other personal details.

According to the report, MEC enrollees who drank more coffee, “were more likely to be younger, male and white and to drink more alcohol.” Also, the more coffee people drank, the more they smoked: among those who drank four cups or more per day, just 26 percent had never smoked.

“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association,” author Veronica W. Setiawan, of USC, said in a statement. “If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”

Coffee is more than an obsession—it’s responsible for a roughly $48 billion market in the U.S., where 64 percent of people say they drink one or more cups a day, according to a Gallup poll.  Americans older than 55 are the biggest coffee consumers, drinking an average of four cups a day, but only 10 percent of people consider themselves to be addicted to the beverage.

Research from 2014 found that drinking large quantities of coffee doesn’t increase your cardiovascular disease risk, and a 2007 report revealed that coffee consumption could reduce your chances of developing liver cancer. Even the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015-2020 dietary guidelines say that drinking three to five eight-ounce cups a day “can be incorporated into healthy eating patterns” given “strong and consistent evidence showing that, in healthy adults, moderate coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases (e.g., cancer) or premature death.”

Although some advantages are linked to the caffeine coffee contains, the USC study found its subjects benefited even if they had decaf coffee. That discovery is one echoed in a 2015 analysis from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle,” Setiawan added in the release.

So, bottom line?  If you drink coffee, keep drinking coffee.  It can’t hurt you…unless you also eat half an Entenmann’s cheesecake at the same time.

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Caffeinating the 60 Blog

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I only drink coffee Monday through Friday and on weekends.

Coffee.  It makes me happy.  I’m not a connoisseur, by any means, and I’m pretty boring with my choice at Starbucks.  I like dark bold coffee, sometimes black and sometimes with a bit of nonfat milk.  And iced coffee is good too!

Some may remember when a family member gave them their first taste of alcohol but Leslie distinctly recall having our first taste of coffee with our grandmother.  We thought we were sophisticated when she gave us a cup filled with a third coffee and two thirds milk.  It tasted so good, and I think we might have even drank it for a time with our pinky in the air!

When I was working a “real” job (not running an elevator on a Sunday), I remember taking the bus into Manhattan and walking past a bagel shop on the way to my office in the Empire State Building.  I asked for a “regular coffee and a bagel butter” and I soon realized my mistake when I was given my order.  A “regular coffee” is  dialectic term which means “coffee and two sugars” in New York, New Jersey and eastern Massachusetts.  Everywhere else “regular coffee” means “black coffee that hasn’t had the caffeine removed.”   In fact, the Urban Dictionary defines “regular coffee” as follows: Coffee that is not decaf. Nothing else.  Example: I said a large regular coffee, if I wanted cream and sugar I would have asked. DUH!

“Regular coffee” may have a “regular” meaning in New York these days, but on that morning on 34th Street in midtown Manhattan, I spit out my coffee because it had sugar in it!  Who would ruin coffee like that?

Of course, serving coffee today is a whole different ballgame.  There’s a Starbucks on almost every corner and you customize your drink exactly the way you want it.  I used to drink a Starbucks nonfat misto (their version of a cafe au lait) every day.  Then I tapered off to a few times a week.  Then it was once a week.  And now it’s maybe once during the weekend and it really is a special treat.  What’s a manicure on a Saturday morning without a caffeine fix?

Oh, we still make coffee at home.  Make a full pot, drink a few cups, and put the rest in the refrigerator for iced coffee the next day.  In fact, there’s one in the fridge right now.  I better drink it before Leslie gets home.