Coffee; surprisingly beneficial!

Krista Mehrl, Views Editor

It’s the last week of first semester, you’ve got all of your hardest finals on the day after tomorrow, and to top it off, it’s 7:30 AM and five degrees below freezing. In order to compensate for your decision to stay up late on Facebook the night before, you find yourself leaving a tiny bit earlier for school to “reward yourself” with a nice hot Peppermint Mocha. 

For some reason, it has been repetitively drilled into our heads that coffee isn’t exactly the healthiest drink. That extra Starbucks run equals a small caffeine overdose, not to mention a minor injury to your wallet. Being the information-surrounded, yet non-informed society that we are, there are many benefits to coffee that go unsung.

Maybe that occasional Caribou or McCafe stop isn’t all that bad. The ingredients in java (yes, caffeine) help to awaken the senses and relax the muscles. Even the aroma of coffee does its part to keep studying students focused, on-task, and alert. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which allows the throbbing blood vessels in the brain during a headache to shrink for relief. An even more profitable effect, perhaps, is that coffee heightens short-term memory. This is great news for students facing morning exams.

According to Joe Vinson, PhD chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. Antioxidants help stabilize chemical structure, which can help prevent against aging and disease. Even though you may not be on the brink of facing diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease at the moment, it never hurts to build up a couple extra nutrients against it.  

Last year in my 4th period Honors Chemistry class with Miss Hennessy, we completed a work packet on the chemical ingredients of coffee. One of the questions read, “What’s with the dancing goats?” A room-full of honors kids frantically searched through the attached article, desperately trying to find that last elusive answer. Sure enough, there was absolutely nothing mentioned about a herd of dancing goats in the text. Dancing goats do relate to the benefits of coffee, I promise. Legend has it that an Ethiopian goatherd went out looking for his flock in the middle of the night on the countryside. He found his goats surrounding a shrub, eating coffee beans and consequently dancing with glee. Maybe the coffee was just too pleasing for them not to dance upon tasting it.

Caffeine, like chocolate, tanning, and eyeliner, is good only in moderation. It can improve cardio workouts and cognitive functions, but excessive levels of it can lead to legitimate caffeine addictions and added stress. Use it wisely.