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Published by Jane de Castro

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Published by: Jane de Castro on Mar 12, 2012
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Harvard Business Review
June 2009
   G  e   t   t  y   I  m  a  g  e  s
that drives Ameri-can business? Innovation? Perspiration?Capital? Try cofee. From the shop floorto the boardroom, java – and I don’tmean the soware – uels workers andshapes o ce culture. What’s more, asteaming cup o joe may be as good or your health as it is or the bottom line.Many people take their cofee witha small dose o guilt, wor-ried that it isn’t good orthe body. That’s a hold-over rom studies done inthe 1950s and 1960s show-ing that cofee drinkerswere prone to pancreaticcancer, heart disease, andother woes. These stud-ies ailed to account orcigarette smoking, whichonce went hand in cup with cofee drink-ing. Since then, the medical communityhas done a gradual about-ace on thehealth efects o cofee.Large, long-term studies show thatcofee doesn’t promote cancer and mayeven protect against some types. It’s saeor the heart – so sae that the AmericanHeart Association says it’s OK or heartattack survivors to have a cup or two aday even as they recover in the coronarycare unit. Results rom the long-runningHealth Proessionals Follow-Up andNurses’ Health studies show that drink-ing cofee cuts the risk o dying earlyrom a heart attack or stroke. Cofeealso appears to ofer some small protec-tion against Type  diabetes, gallstones,and Parkinson’s disease.It’s possible that the bean improvesproductivity, too. A jolt o cafeine wakesup millions o workersin the morning (al-though this hints atits addictive property).Controlled laboratoryexperiments indicatethat it causes eelingso well-being and in-creases energy, alert-ness, and motivation.Functional MRI scansshow that cofee activates parts o the brain involved in short-term memory,the kind that helps ocus attention ontasks at hand.For all that, a word o warning is inorder. The average cup o cofee servesup about 100 milligrams o cafeine, anda large specialty cofee can deliver fivetimes that much. I you aren’t used to ca-eine, it can make you jittery, boost your blood pressure, and dehydrate you. Butthe biggest health hazard is the extrastuf that drinkers add to cofee. Taken black, cofee is a nearly calorie-ree beverage brimming with antioxidantsand other phytonutrients. Add cream,sugar, whipped cream, and flavorings,and it turns into a at- and calorie-ladendessert, which can add pounds thatofset any possible health benefits. Forexample, a 16-ounce Mint Mocha ChipFrappuccino with chocolate whippedcream contains 470 calories. Tucked intothis beverage are 12 grams o saturatedat – nearly a day’s worth – and 58 grams(that’s 14 teaspoons) o sugar.For most people, though, the healthand social benefits o cofee outweighthe hazards, and the daily grind keepsAmerican business percolating.
Thomas H. Lee
is a professor of medicineat Harvard Medical School in Boston,the CEO of Partners Community Health-Care, and the editor of the
HarvardHeart Letter
Reprint R0906ATo order, see page 115.
Good News forCoffee Addicts
Functional MRIscans show thatcoffee activatesparts of the brainthat help focusattention ontasks at hand.
Health & Well-Being

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