Even if you’re normally a tea drinker, the heady aroma of percolating coffee is enough to seduce you over to the dark side!
So much so that we have become a nation of coffee drinkers, enjoying the deep dark roasted bean flavours as much as our Mediterranean and American friends have been for decades.
Sometimes though, admitting to a love of coffee almost feels like a dirty secret, when you consider all the bad press coffee has had over the years.
It’s been targeted as the culprit for numerous health risks and most regular coffee drinkers are made to feel they should cut down or give up totally before their livers expire under the weight of carcinogenic toxins!
Fortunately, there is some good news that should put your mind at rest if you’ve been fretting over your double espresso.
Despite previous research providing contradictory results relating to the health effects of coffee consumption, it now seems that moderate coffee drinking isn’t so bad after all.
In fact, according to the latest research coffee drinking is more likely to benefit health than to harm it. (1)
A paper recently published in the Institute of Food Technologists identified some encouraging results.
The research paper conducted a review of over 200 studies relating to the effects of coffee consumption on health, and came to the following conclusions:
- Drinking coffee was consistently found to be associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease and all other causes. (1)
- The largest reduction in risk of death appeared to be from drinking 3 cups a day, as opposed to not drinking coffee at all.
- More than 3 cups a day didn’t give the same benefits but was not found to be harmful to health either.
- Drinking coffee reduces your risk of several cancers, including liver, skin, prostate and endometrial cancer. (1)
- Drinking coffee also reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, gout or gallstones. (1)
- The greatest benefits associated with coffee drinking are linked to liver diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver. (4)
- Some beneficial effects were also seen in relation to Parkinson's disease, depression and Alzheimer's disease. (2)
What is it in coffee that provides its many health benefits?
Coffee contains a multitude of substances, many of which are potentially biologically active.
Vitamins and minerals are amongst these, most notably niacin otherwise known as vitamin B3, which participates in a number of biochemical processes that involve energy metabolism and tissue health.
Niacin also contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system.
As well as several other B vitamins (riboflavin, folic acid, thiamine, pyridoxine), brewed coffee also contains vitamin C and vitamin K.
Apart from the range of vitamins and minerals, coffee is an extremely rich source of chlorogenic acids and their derivatives.
These are an important group of biologically active dietary phenols, which have been found to have powerful antioxidant activities.
Research shows that chlorogenic acid slows down the uptake of glucose into the bloodstream after a meal, which may help with blood sugar balance. (6)
Research has identified that coffee helps to prevent degenerative mental disorders and this is thought to be due to the neurostimulating, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. (5)
A number of studies suggest that it is the caffeine rather than the coffee itself that offers a protective effect against the progression of cognitive decline. (5)
It should be noted that although drinking moderate amounts of coffee is considered safe for most people, this is not the same during pregnancy or for women who are at a high risk of fractures.
If you don’t normally drink coffee it is not advisable to start drinking coffee for health reasons or drink it to prevent disease.
Are you a coffee drinker?
Do you agree or disagree with this article?
Leave a comment for us and let’s widen this conversation!
Written by: Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy