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Why a coffee habit is good for you

coffee cafeteria smiling woman coffee mug Coffee’s benefits kick in at around two cups a day.
Credit: Wavebreak Media

With about 2.25 billion cups being drunk daily worldwide, coffee hardly needs its own marketing holiday. But it turns out that the best may be yet to come.

Lest you think that all caffeine is created equal, scientists at the French Institute of Research for Development just this month sequenced the coffee plant's genome, say that the genes responsible for producing caffeine evolved in an entirely different way from tea and chocolate.

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“A genome sequence could be a significant step toward improving coffee,” one of the lead researchers said.

The scientific quest for the perfect cup began back in the 1950s, when Manhattan’s National Coffee Association commissioned an MIT professor to literally write the how-to book on quality coffee. Among the results was a formula for brewing coffee, covering how to get the best balance of flavor by factoring in equipment cleanliness, water, temperature, grind and time.

Want to make a study of it yourself? The University of California’s Food for Health Institute is already known for its beer and winemaking programs. Earlier this year, the Davis campus expanded into nonalcoholic beverages with the opening of its Coffee Center. The college already uses a coffee-making seminar, “Design of Coffee,” as part of its chemical engineering curriculum. A likely course offering? The physical and molecular chemistry of milk.

But science has already done plenty to justify your regular caffeine intake. On this National Coffee Day, we round up just a few of the reasons.

1.Drinking more than a cup of coffee a day reduced stroke risk by as much as 25 percent among women, compared with those who drank less.

2.Hydrate away!Regular coffee drinkers, who have built up a tolerance to caffeine, do not experience any diuretic effects from it.

3.Coffee also doesn’t stimulate stomach acid production,cause ulcers or acid reflux, and can in fact help rather than hurt those at risk of developing gallstones.

4.Moderation is key when it comes to the heart: About two cups a day can cut heart failure risk by up to 11 percent, but five or more could be harmful.

5.Type 2 diabetes risk was similarly cut by 11 percent in people who upped their coffee drinking by more than one cup a day over four years — and those who cut their intake saw their risk rise by 17 percent.

6.Coffee protects against some oraland pharyngeal (tongue, soft palate,tonsils) cancers, withthose who drink more than four cups a day having a 49 percent lower risk. That protection falls with each fewer cup.

7.Coffee slows the formation of scartissue on the liver from excessive drinking.

Why you crave it: Arecent studysuggests that caffeine may have evolved in coffee to be intentionally addictive: Animals that spread its pollen tend to develop a habit and return to the plants for another taste.

Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us.

 
 
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