More ammunition for the pro-coffee crowd

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

One of the great things about the Internet is that you can find information about any subject.

One of the terrible things about the Internet is that you can find information to support whatever opinion or prejudice you have about any subject.

A subject as mundane as a morning beverage becomes the topic of spirited debate in industries like the news business that operate on caffeine as much as on electricity.

Americans, who drink more than 20 gallons of coffee per person each year, aren't likely to be dissuaded from doing so by a list of its drawbacks -- which include increased risk of osteoporosis, wrinkly skin, weight gain and possible pesticide contamination as well as the obvious jitters.

They're more likely to concentrate on the supposed advantages -- it reduces your risk of Type 2 diabetes, fights free radicals and improves your memory and cognition.

Now comes new information to bolster the pro-Cuppa Joe crowd.

New research from England found that honeybees fed caffeine-containing nectar are better able, or at least more motivated, to return to the source.

Training the bees to respond to the smell of a flower, the researchers found that bees fed caffeinated nectar were three times better able to remember the flowers' odor 24 hours later.

It's not as odd as it seems; it turns out that the flower necator of citrus plants such as some types of grapefruit, lemon and oranges contain caffeine.

It's not just bees, of course. The U.S. Navy found that sleep-deprived Seals candidates were better able to pay attention and improve short-term memory, in moderate doses.

On the other hand, people who aren't exhausted -- and who could that possibly be? -- don't seem to receive the same benefit.

Other recent research undermined another drawback of coffee -- the wrinkled skin that supposedly results from the dehydrating effects of drinking coffee.

University of Birmingham researchers in England found that 50 men who consumed three to six cups of coffee each day, when switched to equal amounts of water instead, had an equal hydration status. Coffee, apparently, didn't prompt the body to flush out more fluid.

Someone who isn't a "coffee addict" may pitty someone who will pay extra dollars per cup or wait in line while a barista brews up a customized order.

Those who can't function without their morning java, however, would do well to check with their healthcare provider to make sure they're not getting too much of a good thing.

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