The health story that won’t go away
- Would you watch this programme on TV?
- The debate about coffee continues...
- …here’s the latest take on the news.
I’ve had an idea for a trashy cable television programme…
It’s called, ‘When health foods go BAD.’
It could be presented by one of those disgraced ex-children’s TV presenters who get caught taking drugs.
Each week they’d show dramatic clips of people being ill from food the government and advertisers claimed was good for them.
The presenter could end each programme saying, ‘Is YOUR favourite health food next?’
Okay, okay, it’s a bad idea…
But there’d be plenty of material for a series.
Every year there seems to be yet another shock revelation about how low fat, low sugar, low caffeine foods are bad for you.
We’ve just had another one recently…
The BBC website carried an article asking “Are decaffeinated coffee alternatives better for health?”
Well I can answer that question fairly easily…. No!
Let me explain why.
Bad news about ‘healthy’ coffee- Is decaf coffee healthy?
A few weeks ago I told you why I thought that much of the negative press about caffeine was just hype and hysteria.
More importantly I laid out some of the reasons why coffee is such an important part of a healthy diet.
In the accompanying report it highlights why your choice of coffee bean, and the way it is processed is really important.
So, when I come across a piece like that on the BBC service I tend to bristle.
I realise that they were not necessarily making a case for decaffeinated coffee per se, but I don’t like the implication that all caffeine is bad for us.
But I wanted to know – Is decaf coffee healthy?
A few years ago there was powerful research to show the danger of decaf.
The US National Institute of Health has found that drinking decaffeinated coffee could increase the risk of heart disease.
Those in the survey who drank decaffeinated coffee experienced an 18% rise in the fatty acids, which encourages the production of potentially damaging ‘LDL’ cholesterol.
They also discovered that their levels of apolipo-protein B (an LDL cholesterol) shot up by 8%.
The group drinking regular coffee was not affected.
The survey was led by Dr Robert Superko of the ‘Fuqua Heart Centre’ in Georgia. He said:
‘Contrary to what people have thought for many years, I believe it’s not caffeinated but decaffeinated coffee that might promote heart disease risk factors.’
So there you go… another ‘healthy’ alternative, like margarine and artificial sweeteners, has turned out to be the devil in disguise.
Haven’t we learned any lessons, yet?
When will scientists realise that making chemically altered versions of perfectly decent foodstuffs only INCREASES the risk of a health disaster?
Why decaf is unhealthier
So, the question remains – Is decaf coffee healthy?
One reason for the results of the survey on coffee appears to be that caffeinated and decaffeinated coffees are made from different species of beans.
Most caffeinated coffee comes from a bean species called ‘Arabica’… while many decaffeinated coffees are made from ‘Robusta’, which is much, much stronger.
New research has shown that Robusta beans also contain much higher amounts of a compound called acrylamide – something even the UK Food Standards Agency has warned about.
”Laboratory tests show that acrylamide in the diet causes cancer in animals. Scientists agree that acrylamide in food has the potential to cause cancer in humans as well. We recommend that the amount of acrylamide we all consume is reduced, as a precaution.”
But the potential health issues from consuming decaffeinated coffee doesn’t just end with what’s in it…
…it’s also because of what’s missing – vital antioxidants.
This is because decaffeination takes out those flavonoids that give coffee its flavour.
As I mentioned in my letter a few weeks ago, these flavanoids act like powerful antioxidants, which can help protect the heart and fight cancer.
So decaffeinated brands are not only lower in flavanoids, but use a much stronger bean to match the flavour of the regular stuff.
The result is that decaf gives your bad cholesterol a most unwelcome boost.
Most experts believe that you shouldn’t worry if you’re one of those who enjoy only one or two cups of coffee a day… but I think you should be aware of this study.
And although I was joking about my cable television series, ‘When good foods go BAD’, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Sky One executive picks up the idea.
As my mother says, ‘TV is rubbish these days.’