Carisa Cegavske

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May 8, 2013
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Antioxidant-rich coffee offers surprising health benefits for heart, liver and brain

Roseburg resident Stacy Bass drinks her coffee black, one cup in the morning and another at 2:30 p.m.

Sipping an Americano espresso at My Coffee & The Wine Experience on Northwest Garden Valley Boulevard Tuesday afternoon, Bass, 38, said she likes coffee because it makes her feel more alert, especially in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, her friend, Mikayla Seals, was abstaining, but inhaling the fumes from Bass’ coffee. Seals, 23, said this was the first day of an experiment to see if avoiding caffeine improves her skin.

“I miss my morning coffee,” she said.

Both were surprised to hear that coffee might be good for them in the long run.

Roseburg physician Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer said a number of studies suggest a daily cup of coffee may not be the vice many people think it is and that a second or even a third cup probably won’t hurt either. Several long-term studies have even found coffee drinkers live longer, Dannenhoffer said.

Dannenhoffer said coffee contains health-boosting antioxidants and appears to protect against a number of illnesses ranging from Alzheimer’s to liver disease. Studies even suggest coffee drinkers may be less likely to suffer from heart attacks or Type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

“Probably a few cups of coffee a day is not a bad thing,” said Dannenhoffer, who is CEO of Architrave Health, a joint venture of Mercy Medical Center and DCIPA, The Physicians of Douglas County.

Like 150 million other Americans, Dannenhoffer regularly drinks coffee.

“I definitely get my three cups a day,” Dannenhoffer said.

Roseburg resident Lorraine Peterson was sipping chai tea at My Coffee Tuesday, but said she favors Guatemala’s Finest coffee with vanilla at home.

“A lot of coffee upsets my stomach, but the Guatemalan doesn’t,” she said.

Peterson, 74, said she did not think coffee was bad for her.

“I don’t think coffee hurts us. If anything, it’s good for us,” Peterson said.

The java’s not great for everyone, though.

While it appears to reduce the risk of some types of cancers, coffee may increase the risk of lung cancer, Dannenhoffer said.

The caffeine in coffee offers a “mixed bag” of positive and negative effects, Dannenhoffer said. It can increase insomnia or reduce depression. Some studies suggest it may help protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Others suggest it raises blood pressure and contributes to osteoporosis.

Dannenhoffer said insomniacs may want to consider avoiding coffee altogether.

“It can really disrupt sleep patterns and that’s really one of the big health issues in our society,” he said. “People aren’t sleeping well.”

Bass said she does not drink coffee after 4 p.m.

“If I have it after four, I toss and turn,” she said.

Peterson said evening coffee poses no problem for her.

“I could drink coffee at midnight and it would not keep me up,” she said.

Dannenhoffer said caffeine amounts vary greatly depending on the type of coffee consumed. Brewed coffee contains about 130 milligrams of caffeine per cup, while a cup of espresso has just 40.

Bass said she did not care for coffee when she was younger.

“I used to hate coffee. I didn’t start drinking it until I was 27,” she said. A friend lured her into the habit with blended iced mochas. The Americanos — black espresso with hot water — she favors these days are the healthier choice.

Umpqua Community College nutrition instructor Jenny Young Seidemann said coffee drinkers looking to improve their heart health should pay close attention to the add-ons they pour into their cup of java.

“People are going to coffee stands often and getting whipped cream and all that stuff in their coffee. It’s a heart bomb,” she said.

She recommends skim or soy milk and said coffee drinkers should avoid nondairy creamer. Many nondairy creamers contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, a type of trans fat which raises cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease.

Young Seidemann said she enjoys a good homemade latte with skim milk, but suggests there may be better ways to get the health benefits antioxidants provide.

“Whenever someone tells me red wine or coffee have antioxidants, I say, ‘Yeah but so do fruits and vegetables.’ It’s not like we can’t get those anyplace else but coffee and wine.”

• You can reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or

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The News-Review Updated May 8, 2013 01:18PM Published May 9, 2013 08:18AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.