Did you know that drinking coffee can slow the absorption of iron by our body? As a “two cup a day” girl, and someone with haemochromatosis, this is overwhelmingly great news!
Drinking coffee is a daily ritual for most Australians, and, here in Melbourne, we take our coffee very seriously. With the average Australian drinking around nine cups of coffee a week, it is not uncommon to build personal relationships with our baristas, who not only know our order but also our name and what we do on weekends!
I’ve been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember, coming from a family of coffee (and tea) drinkers. As a young girl I remember yearning for a time when I could emulate the apparent sophistication of my mum and sisters, who would spend hours drinking coffee with girlfriends whilst chatting about all manner of occurrences. Coffee, therefore, is far more than just a hot beverage. Growing up in a small country town (and in a time before mobile phones, texting and social media) dropping in on someone for a coffee was an important form of social connection – an opportunity to share feelings, to overcome geographical isolations and to break the “sameness” of daily routines.
Now, many years down the track, coffee is part of my daily life too, and has become somewhat of a ritual – something I look forward to every morning as a signal that my working day is about to start.
I’m a “straight up” type of coffee drinker, meaning my preferred cup is a pour over or long black before getting to the office, however I have also been known to enjoy a flat white mid morning and on weekends.
In addition to being a daily indulgence, for those of us with haemochromatosis coffee can also help to reduce the amount of iron absorbed by our bodies, primarily due to coffee containing a polyphenolic compound naturally occurring in plants called tannic acid. It is these tannins which inhibit iron absorption. In fact, studies conducted in the UK and US over the past 30 years have revealed that coffee consumption may reduce iron absorption by as much as 35%, which is good enough reason for me to keep seeking out my morning fix.
In addition to binding dietary iron, coffee has many other health benefits. Here are eight reasons why coffee is actually very healthy for us.
1. Lowering the Risk of Liver Disease and Cancer
For those of us with haemochromatosis the liver is a depository for excess iron, which unaddressed can lead to serious and permanent complications. Cirrhosis of the liver is the most common side effect of haemochromatosis and occurs when healthy cells become hardened over time, resulting in a build-up of scar tissue which inhibits blood flow in and out of the liver and ultimately leads to reduced liver function. You can read more about liver function and haemochromatosis here. Thankfully, a US study (Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program) has found that coffee is beneficial for liver health and can in fact reduce the incidence of cirrhosis by up to 80%. It is also understood that coffee can be protective against liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), the third leading cause of cancer in the world.
2. Reduced Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes
Several observational studies have shown that coffee is also protective against type 2 diabetes. In a number of US studies (UCLA and Harvard School of Public Health) it was found that each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now, of course there will be an inevitable tipping point with this, so keep your intake of coffee to a moderate amount only.
3. Protecting against Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common neuro degenerative diseases, and the leading cause of dementia worldwide. Whilst there is no known cure for dementia, research is now telling us that drinking coffee may thankfully play a part in preventing the disease from presenting in the first place, which can only be good news.
4. Reducing the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is caused by a reduction of dopamine generating neurons in the brain. Again, while there is no cure for this degenerative disease, research indicates a link between coffee consumption and a lower incidence of Parkinson’s Disease. It is also suggested that coffee can help control involuntary movement in people with Parkinson’s Disease.
5. Improved Heart Health
It is well known that drinking coffee may cause temporary increases in blood pressure, however research also importantly indicates that drinking coffee in moderation (around two cups per day) protects against heart failure, whilst drinking around three to five cups of coffee each day may reduce the risk of clogged arteries. Some studies also show that coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of stroke. Please act on your GP’s advice if you are being asked to lay off coffee, otherwise there are very good reasons for drinking coffee in moderation to improve heart health.
6. An Antioxidant Boost
Did you know that most people get more antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source? Coffee has recently been found to be the best source of antioxidants in the world (according to studies in Spain, Japan, Poland and France). Antioxidants are beneficial in reducing inflammation and can therefore help to reduce joint pain associated with haemochromatosis.
7. A Natural Mood Enhancer
If you are like me, you reach for your morning coffee to kick start the day, boost energy levels and improve focus. This is now known to be more than just “mind over matter”, with the caffeine in coffee working to block negative thoughts and boost our mood, memory and overall cognitive function. Pass me another cup please!
8. A Sublime Body Scrub
Finally, did you know that coffee grounds can be used as an effective body scrub to even out skin tone and temporarily lessen the appearance of cellulite? When used as a scrub, the caffeine content in coffee attracts water to the area we are exfoliating and plumps the skin, resulting in a firmer and smoother appearance. Furthermore, when applied under the eyes coffee grounds can also minimise puffiness.
So hang onto your coffee grounds – not only will you be helping to lessen the amount of waste going into our landfills, but you will be able to repurpose those grounds to your benefit, and the smell is delicious! It’s easy to make a natural coffee scrub at home – simply combine 1/2 cup ground coffee, 1/2 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar) and 1/4 cup coconut oil and mix all of the ingredients together until combined. Apply the scrub to the skin in a gentle circular motion, leave for a few moments and then rinse off. Any leftover scrub can be kept in an air tight container or jar.
Whilst the optimum benefits from coffee are obtained from actually drinking it, here at Iron-ic Wellbeing we also like to cook with coffee, but not always in the way you would expect. This week we share three recipes incorporating coffee – a deliciously fudgy Flourless Coffee Spiked Brownie (which is even better the next day), a Dry Rubbed Salmon Taco which takes the smokiness of coffee to a new level and, an oldie but a goody, Devilled Chicken with a barbecue flavour boost!
How do you like to enjoy your coffee?
- 400g salmon fillet
- Tortillas or Tacos
- Red cabbage, shredded
- Green cabbage, shredded
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh lime wedges
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground coffee
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp dried cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup watercress
- 1/4 cup chopped spring onions
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- 2. Place all spice ingredients in a blender and pulse until it turns into a fine powder.
- 3. Rub both sides of the salmon in the spice mix and place on a lined baking tray for 10-15 minutes, or until the flesh is just cooked through and flakes when you pull it apart.
- 4. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, lime juice, garlic and mustard in a blender and pulsate a few times to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
- 5. Add in watercress, green onions and 1 tbsp water and blend until smooth.
- 6. With the blender running, gradually add in the olive oil until emulsified. Add the honey to taste.
- 7. Create a simple salad with the cabbage and coriander and set aside.
- 8. Lightly grill the tortillas or tacos until they just start to brown (you can also use a frypan with a little oil).
- 9. Serve the tacos with a little of the salmon, cabbage and coriander salad, watercress vinaigrette and a squeeze of fresh lime.
- You can also enjoy the tacos with avocado, a tomato salsa or tomatillo salsa.
- 200g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
- 125g butter
- 100g coconut oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 25g (1/4 cup) cocao powder
- 200g brown sugar
- 2 tbsp espresso coffee
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 150g almond meal
- 1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
- 2. Grease a 24cm square baking tin (or equivalent).
- 3. Heat butter, coconut oil and chocolate in a double saucepan over low heat until melted.
- 4. Take the saucepan off the heat and mix in the vanilla, cocao powder and sugar.
- 5. Make the espresso coffee, and add 2 tbsp to the mix. Stir to combine and set aside to cool slightly.
- 6. Beat the eggs into the chocolate mix.
- 7. Pour the chocolate mix into a large bowl.
- 8. Add the almond meal and fold through to combine.
- 9. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top has set.
- 10. Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool.
- 11. Once cool, remove from the tin and cut into squares.
- I use a silicon baking mould, which makes removing the cooked brownie a lot easier.
- You could also add 100g walnuts or macadamia nuts when adding the almond meal.
- The brownies are delicious when first cooked, but even fudgier the next day.
- 1 kg chicken pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp ground coffee
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1. Place the chicken with all marinade ingredients in a large glass or plastic container and combine thoroughly.
- 2. refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight, stirring occasionally.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
- 4. Line a baking tray with paper.
- 5. Place the chicken in a single layer on the tray and bake for 30 minutes.
- 6. Turn chicken over and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until golden and sticky.
- I used chicken "chops" for this recipe, however wings and drumsticks are equally as delicious.