Did you know that Americans consume roughly 400 million cups of coffee every single day? In essence, that’s equals the country’s population including children and infants! Without a doubt, that’s a lot of java, and one that could be concerning if coffee posed serious health risks. But fortunately, that’s not the case based on some of the latest research. Several studies now tout the health advantage of coffee, even when several cups are consumed a day. As it turns out, there are several ingredients in coffee that lower our risk of disease, some of which are life-threatening.
As with anything, however, the devil is in the details when it comes to coffee drinking. The amount a person drinks and how they prepare it can affect the health advantage of coffee significantly. But even those who add a bit of sugar to their coffee beverages, key benefits still persist. Plus, even those who decide to drink decaffeinated coffee drinks appear to also enjoy important health effects. Because the number of ingredients in coffee is in the hundreds, sorting out which ones are healthy is a challenge. But study after study keeps proving that drinking coffee on a regular basis is actually a very healthy thing.
Breaking Down the Ingredients in Coffee
As you awake to that aromatic, piping-hot cup of coffee each morning, you’re probably not thinking about what’s in it. Other than the caffeine that you might crave, you might have never considered what other chemicals might exist. However, coffee is actually a highly complex compound, and the coffee bean itself has hundreds of chemicals. According to some, the green coffee bean has about 300 chemicals that then increases to 850 after roasting. That’s a lot of ingredients in coffee, and any might cause healthy or even unhealthy effects. But at least thus far, studies support that the health advantage of coffee far exceeds the potential disadvantage.
Of all the chemicals in coffee, only about 30 have been studied. The majority of these studies examine how different ingredients in coffee affect aroma and flavor. But several are now exploring whether or not there is a health advantage to coffee, given that we consume so much. Specific ingredients in coffee that look to account for some of these benefits are at least a few. For one, coffee contains several antioxidants, like chlorogenic acid, that fights inflammation. It also has a significant amount of vitamin B3, magnesium and potassium. It even has a compound known to prevent cavities that inhibits tooth-eating bacteria. These are among the known chemicals that appear to offer a health advantage in coffee.
The Latest Coffee Research
In the last month, new research concerning the health advantage was published from the U.K. Scientists followed over 170,000 people on an average of 7 years and monitored their risk of mortality. They used a large database, called the U.K. Biobank, which details demographics, lifestyle habits, and mortality. They then analyzed how coffee consumption affected the rate of death among those did and did not drink coffee. They were also able to delineate various ingredients in coffee that people drank, such as caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners. Based on this, they found that coffee drinkers on average had a 30% less likelihood of dying during the study that non-coffee drinkers. This applied to people who drank anywhere from 1.5 cups a day to nearly 4 cups a day.
These results are pretty impressive, especially since few things we do reduce mortality rate by this high of a figure. But what’s more intriguing is that those who added a little bit of sugar to their coffee (about a teaspoon) did the best out of the group. No clear health advantage of coffee was seen for those who used artificial sweeteners. Also, it was observed that decaffeinated coffee drinkers did just as well as caffeinated coffee drinkers. Thus, other ingredients in coffee besides caffeine appear to be important in extending longevity. Notably, these results cannot be extrapolated to coffee beverages with high amounts of sugar and/or fat. But nonetheless, it’s pretty clear there does exist a health advantage of coffee.
Longer Life and Better Quality of Life
While the research above was rather general in nature, the number of people included in the study was substantial. This makes the health advantage of coffee found to be highly reliable. Interestingly, other studies have also shown more specific benefits to drinking coffee daily. For example, research has linked coffee drinking to lower risks of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Coffee is also protective of the liver and reduces the risk of some cancers like prostate cancer. And it also lowers the rate of heart disease when consumed in moderation. Any and all of these effects from ingredients in coffee could have accounted for this latest study’s findings.
While much remains unknown about the hundreds of ingredients in coffee, there are some theories. For example, caffeine, which accounts for coffee’s stimulant effect, is believed to improve glucose metabolism. This could lower the risk for diabetes and also help us maintain a healthier weight. As previously mentioned, coffee has several antioxidants that fight inflammation and protect our bodies’ cells. These effects may account for lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and brain diseases in people who drink coffee. Hopefully, future research will clarify these issues further, but everything suggests coffee isn’t a bad thing.
Moderation Is Important
In the study, the researchers noted that it’s still important not to over do it when it comes to coffee. The health advantage of coffee was seen with a relatively small amount and peaked at 3 cups a day. Higher amounts that this might actually be detrimental to one’s wellbeing. In addition to making you jittery from too much caffeine, excessive coffee can cause stomach upset and elevated blood pressure. The researchers also said that the study does not mean non-coffee drinkers should start drinking coffee either. But for those if us who do, at least some of the ingredients in coffee promote wellness. And on average, it seems to add a few more years to our lives.
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