coffee beans

Health Benefits of Coffee Drinking

It seems every other day there’s a new report about whether drinking coffee is good for you or not.

Now, a review of more than 200 scientific studies has given weight to the idea that a cup a day — or even three — could actually have health benefits.

Although researchers don’t know why.

Coffee can be a controversial beverage for the health conscious, thanks to conflicting studies and health claims. For every person who swears off it for fears it will dehydrate them or give them cancer there’s someone else using it to supercharge their naps, mixing it with butter in a bid to lose weight or trying to stave off heart attack and stroke.

The review, published today in the BMJ, aimed to dispel some of that confusion, synthesising the evidence from 218 previous studies and drawing out common themes.

The verdict: researchers found drinking coffee was consistently associated with a lower risk of death from all causes and a lower risk of several cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes, gallstones and gout.

Liver conditions, such as cirrhosis, saw the greatest benefit associated with coffee consumption.

There also seemed to be beneficial associations between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

As for how many long blacks you should glug to get these benefits, researchers found three cups a day was the sweet spot when it came to relative risk of death compared with coffee abstainers.

Drinking more than that wouldn’t harm you, they found, but the beneficial effect was less pronounced.

But, before you run out to the cafe …

But before you race out for another foam-topped shot, the researchers found there were some groups of people who should approach coffee with caution.

While the review was extensive, it’s not the final word on the benefits or otherwise on coffee drinking. Rather, it’s a gateway for more research.

GIF:The review found no link between coffee consumption and demi-god status.

The authors called for randomised controlled trials to understand the cause-and-effect of coffee drinking and the health benefits that have been observed.

And not all experts are completely sold on coffee enhancing health.

In an editorial linked to the review, Eliseo Guallar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health writes that people shouldn’t start drinking coffee simply to prevent disease, given that some people are at higher risk of adverse affects and there is still uncertainty in the data.

The sugary, fatty snacks that go so well with coffee could undo any health benefits conferred by coffee and more besides, he said.

Having said that, “moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population”, Dr Guallar said.

coffee cup

Good News for Heavy Coffee Drinkers

Although coffee in moderation is widely considered to be good for our health, questions remain — such as what about people who are sensitive to caffeine or who drink large quantities? A new study investigates.

Coffee in a cup

New research into coffee confirms, and widens the scope of, its benefits.

Coffee is among the most commonly consumed beverages on earth.

Because of its popularity, it has attracted a great deal of research over the years.

After all, something that permeates society so thoroughly must be studied for its pros and cons.

Scientists have now stacked up a fair amount of evidence proving that coffee, when consumed in moderation, can protect against certain diseases and may even extend lifespan.

Studies have now shown that moderate coffee consumption might protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, to name but three.

Gaps in our knowledge

But the findings to date leave some unanswered questions. For instance, “moderate consumption” — which usually means three to five cups per day — depending on the study, seems to be of benefit, but many people drink six or more cups each day.

So, do they still enjoy coffee’s protective powers?

Also, certain people have genetic variations that alter the way in which they metabolize, or break down, caffeine. How are these individuals affected? Similarly, does the type of coffee — ground, instant, or decaffeinated — make a difference to health outcomes?

Other studies have attempted to answer the questions above, but, because fewer people fall into these categories, it has been difficult to make robust conclusions from the available data.

Recently, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Rockville and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, both in Maryland, set out to get some answers.

Their work, which includes the data of more than half a million people in the United Kingdom, is published today in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Reopening the coffee question

The scientists found that, as predicted, coffee drinkers had a lower risk of death over the course of the follow-up. They also found that this reduction in risk extended to people who drank eight or more cups each day.

It also affected people who metabolize caffeine slower or faster than normal, and it worked across all coffee types (although the benefits were slightly less pronounced for instant coffee).

The fact that individuals who process caffeine differently and those who drink decaffeinated coffee also saw benefits hints that caffeine is not the main player in this beneficial relationship. Coffee consists of hundreds of different chemicals, making this a tricky code to crack.

One group of chemicals that scientists have been interested in is polyphenols, which are found in reduced levels in instant coffee. Much more work will be needed to understand how they fit into the bigger picture, though.

The new study is based on observational data, but because of the large number of participants used, the authors conclude:

[T]hese results provide further evidence that coffee drinking can be part of a healthy diet and may provide reassurance to those who drink coffee and enjoy it.”

With its unwavering popularity, research into coffee is guaranteed to continue. The authors hope that future studies focus more on how the preparation of coffee influences health outcomes.

For now, it seems firmly established that coffee has a raft of health benefits.

Although coffee in moderation is widely considered to be good for our health, questions remain — such as what about people who are sensitive to caffeine or who drink large quantities? A new study investigates.

Coffee in a cup

New research into coffee confirms, and widens the scope of, its benefits.

Coffee is among the most commonly consumed beverages on earth.

Because of its popularity, it has attracted a great deal of research over the years.

After all, something that permeates society so thoroughly must be studied for its pros and cons.

Scientists have now stacked up a fair amount of evidence proving that coffee, when consumed in moderation, can protect against certain diseases and may even extend lifespan.

Studies have now shown that moderate coffee consumption might protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease, to name but three.

Takeaway coffee

11 Reasons You Should Drink Coffee Every Day

There really can’t be any adult in this great big world that has never tried coffee. It’s consumed everywhere, and judging by the amount of Starbucks locations in the United States alone, (in 2012, there were 10,924!) we love our caffeine.

And that’s fine. In fact, there are many advantages to being one of the 54 percent of Americans over 18 who drink coffee everyday. Coffee can be pretty amazing for your brain, your skin and your body. Read on to discover 11 reasons you should wake up and smell the coffee…

Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.

According to a study done in 2005, “nothing else comes close” to providing as many antioxidants as coffee. While fruits and vegetables also have tons of antioxidants, the human body seems to absorb the most from coffee.

Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.

Researchers at the Seoul National University examined the brains of rats who were stressed with sleep deprivation and discovered that those who were exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in brain proteins tied to that stress. Note, this aroma study doesn’t relate to stress by itself, only to the stress felt as a result of sleep deprivation. Now, we’re not entirely sure if this means you should keep a bag of roasted coffee beans on your nightstand every night, but feel free to try!

Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

ScienceDaily reported in 2012 that drinking coffee may help people with Parkinson’s disease control their movement. Ronald Postuma, MD, the study author, said, “Studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease.”

Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).

A study published in 2006 that included 125,000 people over 22 years showed that those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less to develop liver cirrhosis — an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to liver failure and cancer. Arthur L Klatsky, the lead author of the study, told The Guardian, “Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis.”

Studies have also shown that coffee can help prevent people from developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School revealed that drinking four or more cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in preventing the progression of NAFLD.

Coffee can make you feel happier.

A study done by the National Institute of Health found that those who drink four or more cups of coffee were about 10 percent less likely to be depressed than those who had never touched the java. And apparently it’s not because of the “caffeine high” — Coke can also give you a caffeine high, but it’s linked to depression. Study author, Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, told Prevention.com that the proposed reason coffee makes you feel good is because of those trusty antioxidants.

Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide.

A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health determined that drinking between two and four cups of coffee can reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50 percent. The proposed reason is because coffee acts as a mild antidepressant by aiding in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you’re a woman).

Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed 112,897 men and women over a 20-year period and, apparently, women who drink three or more cups of coffee a day are much less likely to develop skin cancer than those who don’t.

Coffee can make you a better athlete.

The New York Times reports, “Scientists and many athletes have known for years, of course, that a cup of coffee before a workout jolts athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling.” Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which allows athletes’ muscles to absorb and burn those fats for fuel, therefore saving the body’s small reserves of carbohydrates for later on in the exercise.

Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Coffee also lowers risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a study from The American Chemical Society. The study’s researchers found that people who drink four or more cups of coffee a day reduce their chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by 50 percent. Subsequently, with every additional cup, the risk gets lowered by 7 percent.

Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer.

Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that people older than 65 who had higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than others with lower caffeine. Dr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF, and co-author of the study, said, “We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer’s disease. However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s or delay its onset.”

Coffee may make you more intelligent.

You usually drink coffee when you are sleep-deprived, right? Well, that much-needed jolt not only keeps you awake, it makes you sharper. CNN reports that coffee allows your brain to work in a much more efficient and smarter way. TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, says, “When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning — most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence.”

Moral of the story? COFFEE IS THE BEST THING EVER. KEEP DRINKING IT.