Coffee and Its Relationship to Your Health THAT MORNING CUP OF JOE What’s the first thing you do in the morning? For most of us in the United States, it’s one crucial task: getting that morning cup of joe. Our obsession with coffee is nothing new. A paper entitled “The Consumption of Coffee in the United States,” published July 18, 1861, noted that “the people of the United States habitually consume more coffee than the inhabitants of any other country.” Its popularity has only increased with time; people in the U.S. consume an estimated 400 million cups of coffee a day. Of course, we weren’t the first to find out how great coffee is. Long before anyone in the Americas enjoyed the beverage, legend has it that an Ethiopian goat herder discovered the amazing effects of coffee beans — on his goats. He noticed that after eating “berries” from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic they didn’t want to sleep. News spread around the Arabian Peninsula, and cafes began to pop up, known as “Schools of the Wise” for the intellectual conversations that happened there. In addition to coffee’s long-standing popularity, science has found several reasons to give our morning habit the thumbs-up. In 2015, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines evaluated the effects of coffee and caffeine for the first time, concluding that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle “along with other behaviors, such as refraining from smoking, consuming a nutritionally balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and being physically active.”The guidelines cite “strong and consistent evidence” that consuming coffee within the moderate range (3–5 cups per day, or up to 400 mg of caffeine per day) is not associated with an increased risk of major diseases. In fact, according to observational evidence, caffeine intake may be linked to reduced risk for certain diseases in healthy adults. Scientists think that antioxidants found in coffee, such as polyphenols, might contribute to its positive effects. There’s one major caveat, however. While coffee shows potential benefits when consumed in moderate amounts, the sugar and other additives that many of us like to put in it get a thumbs-down. The Dietary Guidelines also note that health alone isn’t a reason to start drinking caffeine. Folks with blood pressure concerns should be especially careful and should consult their doctor about how much coffee is okay to drink, as studies have shown evidence of increased blood pressure with caffeine consumption.
SPICY, CREAMY SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but they’re often the blandest thing on the table. Luckily that’s not the case with this recipe, which features Thai spices and coconut milk.
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
5 pounds sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoonThai red curry paste
1. Heat oven to 375 F. On a large sheet pan, bake potatoes until very soft, approximately 75 minutes. 2. Let potatoes cool until they are safe to handle, then peel and mash. 3. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine coconut milk and curry paste. Once mixed, add the mixture, salt, half the sugar, and half the butter to potatoes. 4. 30 minutes before serving, heat oven to 425 F. Spread potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. 5. Uncover potatoes, and dot with remaining butter and sugar. Broil until brown, crusty, and delicious. Serve hot. Inspired by The NewYork Times
Everything in moderation, as the saying goes, at least when it comes to caffeine.
CAFFEINE BY THE CUP
Milligrams/ fluid ounce
Brewed or drip coffee
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