Coffee: The Great Equalizer That Reduces the Risk of Stroke
The connection between coffee and the brain is taken for granted. Coffee is a major stimulant that speeds up reaction time and improves short-term memory, primarily by acting on the prefrontal cortex. But coffee’s effect on the brain goes beyond caffeine-induced stimulation. In fact, there is one brain-related benefit associated with all types of coffee---caffeinated, decaf, instant, or ground coffee. Regular coffee-drinking reduces the risk of having a stroke by about 27%. Researchers think that this is because of the antioxidants in coffee (the #1 source of antioxidants in the American diet), which can lower inflammation and improve blood vessel function.
In a 12-year observational study led by Dr. Yangmei Li at the University of Cambridge in England, the coffee drinking habits of more than 23,000 men and women (aged 39 to 79) were tracked. Coffee drinkers fared much better than non-coffee-drinkers when it came to stroke---the leading cause of disability and the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Stroke Association (NSA). By definition, a stroke is life-limiting and disabling. It is essentially “a brain attack” in which blood flow and oxygen to the brain is cut off due to a clot or sometimes due to bleeding in the brain. During a stroke, 2 million brain cells die every minute.
In 2010, there were almost 800,000 strokes and more than 135,000 stroke-related deaths un the US. The NSA recommends maintaining a healthy blood pressure, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising, and controlling cholesterol levels as preventive measures. Stroke prevention comes down to lifestyle---and based on the data from this study, coffee drinking is another positive lifestyle measure.
Another interesting aspect of this study that was very surprising is that all coffee drinkers enjoyed the advantage of a reduced risk of stroke regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, social class, physical activity level, or smoking or alcohol consumption status. How democratic…Maybe coffee can help level the playing field in terms of accruing health benefits. One more reason to make drinking coffee a major public health initiative!