The surprising benefit hiding in that Grande Americano

Feel guilty every time you drink your morning cup of coffee? Well, maybe you don’t have to. In fact, the latest research offers more than a couple reasons to indulge in this particular “vice.” And some are more compelling than you might ever guess.

Like the results of a recent study from the University of Southern California, for example…

It featured nearly 10,000 subjects. Half had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the previous six months. The other half had no history of the disease at all. But they all reported on their daily coffee consumption. (And not just the usual filtered brew — but espresso, instant, and decaf consumption, as well.)

Researchers also collected details on a host of other colorectal cancer risk factors — including family history, diet, activity levels, and smoking status. And guess what?

Just one to two servings of coffee a day — moderate intake by any definition — was linked with a 26 percent drop in colorectal cancer risk. Even after accounting for other major risk factors. But that’s not all…

The risk plummeted even further with higher consumption. And when subjects drank more than two and a half servings — that’s just under 16 ounces — their odds of developing colorectal cancer dropped by half.

Even better, this risk reduction turned up across the board, with any type of coffee…even decaf.

Which means that all that angst about caffeinated-versus-decaf really doesn’t matter. At least, not when you’re using coffee as a health food — instead of a “quick fix” to make up for lost sleep or chronic fatigue.

But I’ll come back to that in a moment. For now, let’s focus on the main point, which is that yes — plain old black coffee is in fact a health food.

In fact, it’s packed with cancer-fighting compounds. Coffee’s impressive profile includes beneficial phenols, like chlorogenic, caffeic and cumaric acids. (All powerful antioxidants that can purge toxins and inhibit cancer cell growth.) And melanoidins and diterpenes (like cafestol and kahweol) — natural compounds formed during roasting, which help to keep your colon mobile and shield it from free radicals.

Don’t get me wrong. Coffee won’t stand in for other important colon cancer prevention factors — like losing weight, eating right, and staying active. But contrary to its reputation as a dietary no-no, a daily cup of joe has absolutely earned a place among these strategies.

With some caveats, of course.

As you may recall, I don’t drink coffee — not for any particular health reasons, but because it just makes me too jittery. My body simply can’t handle the caffeine. (Though after this study, I may just have to try decaf again.)

Caffeine may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things — but believe me, for some people it is.

In fact, it’s really the only reason I advise certain patients to quit drinking coffee. (And, for the record, I’m talking about black coffee here. Not those gigantic, sugar-packed milkshakes that get passed off as “coffee” drinks. No one should be drinking those monstrosities.)

Here’s the thing: I have always felt that coffee — in small doses — has health benefits. But if you simply can’t get through your day without multiple cups of coffee (or any other caffeinated beverage), then you’re dealing with a serious health problem. One that needs to be addressed.

I outlined my protocol for conquering adrenal fatigue — the most common culprit behind caffeine dependence — in the April 2013 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives.

And kicking coffee is the first step.

But that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through daily fatigue. In fact, you may recall that I devoted an entire article to all-natural energy-boosters (ones that don’t rely on a dose of caffeine to get results) in the recent July issue.

Subscribers can access that article and get the scoop on adrenal fatigue by visiting the archives. So if you haven’t signed up yet, why not do it today?

In the meantime, if you enjoy starting your day with a few cups of coffee (but you don’t feel like you NEED it just to get by), then by all means, grab a mug and drink up.