is 'health drink' says Italian
It is a daily routine for millions of Italians - the morning cup
of espresso brewed on the kitchen hob or downed swiftly in a cafe
on the way to work.
But for years their favourite way of kick-starting the day has had
a bad press - most recently when it was reported that doctors had
told British Prime Minister Tony Blair to drink less coffee.
Now it seems the tide is turning.
Forget the scare stories, says dietician Chiara Trombetti, of the
Humanitas Gavazzeni institute in the northern Italian town of
There is sound scientific reason to enjoy your morning espresso
without worrying about the health effects.
Coffee can be good for you - she says - and the stronger, the
That is why she recommends an espresso rather than a very
un-Italian cup of instant.
Dr Trombetti says she hates the stuff herself - but points to a
welter of scientific evidence to back her case.
Coffee contains tannin and antioxidants, which are good for the
heart and arteries, she says.
It can relieve headaches.
It is good for the liver - and can help prevent cirrhosis and
And the caffeine in coffee can reduce the risk of asthma attacks -
and help improve circulation within the heart.
There is no denying that coffee is not for everyone.
If you drink too much it can increase nervousness, and cause rapid
heartbeat and trembling hands.
Pregnant women, heart patients, and anyone with a stomach ulcer
are usually advised to avoid it.
And even Dr Trombetti says no one should drink more than three or
four cups a day.
But there is one group of Italians in particular who might benefit
from her advice.
Many parents might be horrified at the thought.
But Dr Trombetti is adamant that a cup of milky coffee could make
the ideal start for the next generation of coffee lovers - Italy's
drowsy school kids - stimulating their brains ahead of a day that
often lasts from 0830 until 1600