Drink to Your Health (Part 1) — COFFEE

By AltMed1-Peggy  

 

Lately, we’ve seen lots of good news about studies that show popular beverages are as good for us as they are good tasting and pleasant to drink. In this Drink to Your Health series, we’ll take a look at what health benefits research is finding for water, green tea, black tea, red wine, and other drinks.

 

Today, we take a look at coffee. Not long ago, coffee was considered an unhealthy drink, a guilty  pleasure people indulge but apologized for with embarrassed remarks such as, “I know I really shouldn’t but … ”  People who truly enjoyed coffee didn’t want to give it up, no matter what the prevailing health theories said at the time.

 

But in the last few years, coffee has been transformed from villain to bystander to good guy.

 

Now research shows those java-licious cups of Joe are loaded with antioxidants that help protect against many diseases including:

  • type 2 diabetes
  • cancers (several types)
  • cardiovascular problems
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • liver disease

 

And the latest study shows people who drink coffee every day live longer than those who don’t. The project began in 1995 with approximately 400,000 people aged 50 to 71 who did not have heart disease or history of stroke at that time, and whose daily calorie intake was not too high or too low.

 

What the study found:

When the researchers compared people who drank just one cup of coffee each day to people who drank no coffee, the coffee drinkers turned out to be less likely to die (of all causes). For women, death risk dropped by 5 percent; in men it was 6 percent lower.

 

However, few drank only one cup. The study found that most people drank two to three cups of coffee each day. Compared to coffee abstainers, women in that two-to-three-cups-a-day group were 13 percent less likely to die and men were 10 percent less likely.

 

The greatest longevity difference was found in women who drank four to five cups of coffee daily. Their death risk was a stunning 16 percent lower than people who didn’t drink coffee.

 

In addition to living longer, the researchers also noted that coffee drinkers’ chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes, infections, injuries, and accidents was lower than those who didn’t drink coffee.

 

Naturally, everyone wants to know why. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for more research to get an answer. Researchers say they don’t know yet.

 

They also don’t have enough information at this point to say whether coffee was the cause of longer lifespan or merely an associated factor. It may be easier to see the different if you picture longevity as a car speeding down the highway. They know coffee is in the car but they don’t yet know whether coffee is driving the car or merely a hitchhiker tagging along for the ride.

 

But even though we don’t have all the answers, coffee lovers will be happy to know they can relax and enjoy another cup of their favorite (healthy) brew.

 

Want to read the coffee-longevity study? See Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality, published in the May 17, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine.

 

For other articles about coffee’s health benefits, see:

Say it’s so, Joe: The potential health benefits – and drawbacks – of coffee, Coffee and Your Health, WebMD,

* Coffee and Health: What does the research say? MayoClinic.com

* Why coffee protects against diabetes, ScienceDaily.com

* Coffee drinkers may live longer, study suggests. USA TODAY

 

© 2012, all rights reserved


2 Comments

  1. Posted May 19, 2012 at 7:43 am | Permalink | Reply

    Well, this post makes my day! Great news, Peggy.

    • AltMed1-Peggy
      Posted May 21, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink | Reply

      I thought so too, Jan — it’s great when research finds that something we already love is good for us!

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