Americans consume about 146 billion cups of coffee every year according to the National Coffee Association. It’s obvious that we love our coffee, but can it really be good for us?
Most people drink coffee to help them wake up in the morning or to combat that early afternoon nap craving. However, recent studies suggest that our beloved java also provides an array of possible health benefits.
When it comes to beverages, coffee is extremely complex. There are over a thousand compounds in coffee, and each of them can have different effects on your body. The most well-known is caffeine, but the polyphenols (anti-oxidants) in coffee are also very commonly-studied.
The Potential Benefits
Coffee has been one of the most studied beverages in the world for decades now, and most of the results have been positive. A study published in the
American Heart Association’s Circulation Journal actually found an association between coffee consumption and an 8 to 15 percent drop in death risk.
- Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes
A study published in the Diabetologia journal by researchers at Harvard showed a correlation between coffee and reduced Type II Diabetes risk. The study pulled data from almost 124,000 people over a span of 16 to 20 years.
Of the people studied, those that drank more coffee (more than 1 cup more) over four years showed an 11 percent reduction in their risk of getting Type II Diabetes. Inversely, those who decreased coffee intake by a cup per day increased their Type II Diabetes risk by 17 percent.
- Diminished Symptoms and Decreased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease
Over the past few decades, an assortment of different studies have pointed to a positive relationship between caffeine consumption and reduced Parkinson’s Disease risk.
In 2012, a study published in Neurology also suggested that coffee can help people with Parkinson’s control their involuntary movements. This was based on a daily caffeine dosage equal to the amount found in two cups of coffee (16 ounces/day).
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
Although researchers still aren’t sure how exactly coffee improves cardiovascular health, many believe it has something to do with the body’s improved control of blood pressure and blood flow. There are over 35 different studies that show a correlation between heart disease and coffee consumption.
Those who consume three to five cups on a daily basis seem to have a lower risk of developing heart disease than those who never drink coffee or those who gulp down five cups a day.
- Lowered Risk of Melanoma
One of the largest and most in-depth studies involving coffee consumption was recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The ten-year study considered the coffee consumption habits of over 447,000 people.
When comparing people who drank no coffee or decaf only to those who drank at least four cups of joe daily, researchers discovered that the coffee drinkers were 20 percent less likely to develop melanoma.
- Protection of the Liver
The liver protection capabilities of coffee have been shown in multiple well-respected studies over the past few years. These studies have covered coffee’s ability to reduce the amount of harmful enzymes in the liver, limit scarring of the liver in patients with hepatitis C, and decrease the death risk of patients with liver cirrhosis.
- Slowed Progression of Cognitive Impairments and Dementia
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease recently published a study that showed a possible correlation between improved cognitive function and coffee consumption. Researchers tested the blood of older participants suffering from mild cognitive impairment for caffeine levels. These impairments can often serve as a precursor to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
After two to four years, the participants were studied again for cognitive function. Those who consumed little to no caffeinated coffee had experienced fully-developed dementia at a much higher rate than those with caffeine levels equal to approximately three cups of black coffee.
Leading Organizations are Changing Their Tune
The World Health Organization and several other leading health organizations have recently changed their guidelines concerning coffee as a carcinogenic food.
In a 2016 report published by The Lancet Oncology, the World Health Organization removed coffee from its list of “potentially carcinogenic foods.” In fact, it actually included that it is “potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver.”
The World Cancer Research Fund International and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee made similar changes regarding moderate coffee consumption.
Important Notes to Remember
Although all of these benefits might persuade you to fill that coffee mug a few more times each day, there are also several things to keep in mind relating to coffee consumption.
- None of These Studies Showed the Benefits of Creamers and Sugar
If you like to add a lot of creamer and several sugar packets to your cup of joe, increasing your coffee intake may not be the best choice. The scientific community widely agrees that these add-ins can be very harmful in large doses.
For example, many of your favorite
include too many calories, fat, and sugar to be even somewhat beneficial to your health. Stick to black coffee or low-fat/low-sugar add-ins!
- Decaf Only for Those with Certain Conditions
If you commonly suffer from heartburn, caffeine is not a good idea for you. Numerous studies have shown that caffeine causes your stomach muscles to relax. This allows your stomach acid to rise into your esophagus and cause pain.
Those with osteoporosis should also stick to decaf. Drinking five or more cups of caffeinated coffee every day can cause more fractures and increased calcium loss in osteoporosis patients.
Although it may seem obvious, insomniac and others who struggle with sleep should also avoid caffeine, especially in the afternoon. Sleep issues can quickly become a vicious cycle of poor sleep, caffeine consumption to compensate, more poor sleep, and so on.
Foods and beverages that make the “cancer risk list” rarely get make it back off, so it means something that coffee made the switch. It took countless hours of research and an enormous amount of funding to make it happen, but the science is there!
Now you can enjoy your coffee without worrying so much about potential health risks. Instead, that cup of joe may actually be adding years to your life!