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Betsy Berthin RD, LD
Scores of studies have investigated the health benefits of coffee, and while none actually recommends picking up the java habit if you haven't already, some certainly give java drinkers a reason to be less jittery.
One area of research is coffee's effect on Type 2 diabetes. Coffee seems to slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the intestines, retarding the progression and maybe even preventing the onset of diabetes, although it has yet to be determined whether the key is the caffeine or some other coffee ingredient.
Another health relationship under scrutiny is that between coffee and cancer. While coffee may have a negative effect where some cancers are concerned (leukemia and stomach), it may be of some protective value against liver, colon and rectal cancer. Its been suggested that the rapid transit of coffee and fast passage of stool aids in eliminating carcinogens from food as well as bile acids.
Like green and black tea, coffee has its share of antioxidants that may protect against certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. (Antioxidants are components in food that protect cells from damage caused by oxidation.) A study in 2005 led by the
Nutritionally speaking, a coffee cup label would look like a bunch of zeros. No fat, calories (too little to mention), cholesterol, sodium or carbohydrates. There are trace minerals in coffee, such as potassium, magnesium, manganese, thiamin and niacin, all essential in varying amounts.
Coffee may show some health promise, but let's not forget the obvious. Coffee today is a mere shadow of what we were once filling in our travel mugs. The specialty drinks we now call coffee are loaded with extras like excess sugar, cream (including whipped) and any number of syrups. Often clocking in at 500 to 700 calories per drink -- not to mention the saturated fat -- these treats-in-a-cup negate any possible health benefits coffee may have. Dieters beware.
Americans love affair with coffee may on balance turn out to be beneficial, but it's definitely not a health tonic, despite the claims of some. Feel free to enjoy your morning buzz -- but do it in moderation. Remember that caffeine is not advised for pregnant women, and it may exacerbate the effect of certain medications. Check with your doctor.
Meanwhile, if you just can't get enough of it in your cup, you might consider using it to cook. For some time coffee has been used as a flavoring for desserts, but it has excellent savory applications as well.
See what coffee can do on the barbecue with this recipe for Java Rub Chicken.
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Barbecued Java Rub Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Barbecued Java Rub Chicken Ingredients
2 whole, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (12 to 16 ounces) or 4 half breasts (each 6 to 8 ounces)
For the rub:
6 tablespoons ground coffee
2 tablespoons coarse salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Oil for the grill
Barbecued Java Rub Chicken Recipe Instructions
Combine all the rub ingredients in a mixing bowl (except the oil) and stir to mix.
Rinse the breast in cold water, then drain, and blot dry
Rub the chicken with the java mixture to fully cover.
Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the chicken on the grill and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side or until fully cooked.
Serve at once.
Barbecued Java Rub Chicken Per Serving: 375 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g sat fat, 171 mg cholesterol, 26 g protein
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Barbecued Java Rub Chicken Recipe - Chicken with a taste of coffee
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