Thursday, July 29, 2010

Calcium and Coffee---Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Very big news from the British Medical Journal. It turns out that calcium supplements can increase the risk of heart attacks. In a combined analysis of 11 clinical trials that included almost 12,000 people with an average age of 72, people taking calcium had a 2.7% risk of having a heart attack over a 4-year period, compared with 2.2% for those taking placebo pills. A slight increase to be sure---but that translates into an approximately 30% higher risk and potentially a lot more heart attacks.

This study garnered a great deal of attention---and rightfully so. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States. A recent study about coffee and heart health has not been as well publicized, but the results are interesting and instructive. A study of 374 patients who had experienced an acute coronary event showed that if they had normal blood pressure and they drank 1 to 2 cups of coffee a day, they decreased their risk of left ventricular systemic dysfunction (LVSD) by 88%, compared with similar patients who did not drink coffee. This positive effect was not true for people with high blood pressure, however.
Sometimes, positive data about coffee goes unrecognized....Likewise, sometimes no-name coffee get a bad name. I for one like brand-name coffee---but the reality is good coffee lurks in improbable places--namely random delis scattered throughout NYC. I especially like the coffee from a deli on 28th and 5th. Good stuff. Smooth and deep and rich---but definitely in need of some mediation, generally in the form of skim milk. Still it's good.

So here's to drinking good coffee wherever you find it and thinking more about coffee and its potentially positive effects on our cardiovascular system.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Drinking Iced Coffee When its Hot, Hot, Hot...

Stultifying heat. Blazing hot. Mercury-popping temperatures....We can honestly say that these descriptions are no hyperbole. It was scorching caliente today! Really. The temperature hit a whopping 103 degrees in Central Park. was a perfect day for drinking iced coffee. Though that wasn't the plan at first. I started the day with a hot brew. However, when Lindsey came over for a mid-morning chat, we decided to pour the morning's brew---Ethiopiam Limu---over ice cubes in brightly colored BPA-free plastic goblets.

The result: delicious-slash-refreshing The coffee was bold enough so that even with ice, a little skim milk, and one sugar it was really festive and good. Yet, we did not turn it into some overly sweetened beverage that reminds one of coffee but is actually a soft drink wannabe. It was coffee pure and simple, and it was really, really good!

Ethiopian Limu is a seasonal summer brew from Starbucks. According to the branding, this blend "has a rich complexity with hints of exotic spices." Starbucks honors the widely honored Ethiopian coffee-drinking tradition. The label features a mortar/pestle motif, with clay mugs and an ornate ceremonial water jug.

According to Lindsey, this blend is "smooth and masculine". Indeed, I agree that this brew privileges yang over yin. Perfect for engaging forward motion, getting motivated to take a call, send an email, read to a child, and ultimately, hopefully---jump in a cool swimming pool! That was my day....perfectly caffeinated.

Drink up and stay cool!