Friday, May 9, 2014

Is Coffee Good for Me or Is Coffee Bad for Me?

New research and information reveals unexpected benefits of coffee and risks of coffee


After our two recent articles How to Make Better Coffee at Home and Storing and Brewing Techniques for the Perfect Cup of Coffee, the question may have crossed your mind, “But is coffee good for me, or is it bad for me?”

It’s a fair question, and not easy to answer, since recent news reports tout newly discovered coffee health benefits … even as other reports proclaim the risks of drinking coffee. 

Can they both be right?

When statistics show that coffee is the world’s most popular hot beverage and that 90 percent of U.S. citizens have some form of caffeine every day, it’s time to look closely at the research and see if coffee is actually good for you … or not.


Research supporting the health benefits of coffee


Yes, evidence shows that you can experience health benefits from consuming coffee.  For example:
Benefit #1: Coffee reduces risk of death?
I cannot help but take issue with the title of the report “study finds that coffee drinkers have lower risk of death.” I’m willing to bet a year’s salary that no amount of coffee will help you beat mortality. 

That said, a 2012 National Cancer Institute report indicates that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.

The scientists stopped short of claiming that coffee makes you live longer, and way short of claiming that you can achieve immortality from drinking coffee.
Benefit #2: Coffee reduces Parkinson's risk and dementia risk
A Mayo Clinic article reports that coffee’s health benefits include protecting you from the risks of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease – even liver cancer.  Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health reports that drinking 3-5 cups coffee per day at midlife can decrease your risk of dementia by about 65 percent at late-life. 
Benefit #3: Coffee boosts memory and concentration
Not only is it possible that coffee reduces dementia risk, but many studies have shown that the caffeine in coffee can improve your cognitive functioning and even reduce depression. So, coffee can not only elevate your learning but your mood!
Benefit #4: Coffee aids weight loss
Many studies, including this one, indicate that you can boost your metabolism by drinking coffee, or any other caffeine beverage, by as much as 11 percent. Sure, the study is nearly 20 years old, but that coffee is still fresh, right?

Besides, a 2002 study shows that caffeine increases fat burn by as much as 10 percent if you’re obese and up to 29 percent if you’re lean.

This adds a whole new meaning to the term Skinny Latte, don’t you think?


Research on the risks of coffee

If you enjoy coffee as much as I do, you’ll want to stop reading right here. As the following research shows, not all the research on coffee smells like roses – in fact, some research suggests you may be pushing up daises if you keep drinking coffee!
Risk #1: Coffee can shorten your life?
I’m sure the irony of this statement did not escape you in light of Benefit #1 above, which suggested the opposite: that coffee can potentially extend your life.  But indeed, a 2013 study shows that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily is enough to increase your risks of having a multitude of health problems and even increase your mortality risk.

And the difference is hardly negligible. Those averaging more that 28 cups of joe weekly are 21 percent more at risk of mortality from health issues than those who drink less coffee.

Young men: turns out you’re not as tough as you’d like to think; the study showed that your risk of increased mortality begins at an even at lower rate of consumption than women – expect a whopping 56 percent mortality risk boost from the drinking the same amount!
Risk #2: Coffee’s caffeine poses risks for some people
Even if coffee can benefit some us, the rest of us need to think twice before that next sip. For example:
  • If you’ve got high blood pressure, diabetes, or osteoporosis, studies indicate that caffeine can make matters worse.
  • If you are naturally susceptible to addictive behaviors, be aware that caffeine is physically addictive and can cause dependencies.
  • As well, Mayo Clinic reports that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in some people.
  • In fact, coffee can also exacerbate conditions of insomnia, heartburn, or anxiety. 
  • Caffeine can interfere with certain medications. 
In short, if you’re in great health, coffee may be great for your health. But otherwise…. not so much.
Risk #3: Coffee can increase bad cholesterol levels
Are you an espresso drink fan?  Bad news: Another new study shows that a high consumption level of unfiltered coffee – and that includes all espresso-based drinks, including lattes, Americanos, and just about every other coffee drink on the Starbucks menu except drip brewed – can create a mild elevation in cholesterol levels. Because the effect is mild, it is likely not a health concern unless you already have a problem with your cholesterol levels.

Beyond these three big risks, you should also know that, because of the way most coffee is processed, it contains mycotoxins, which are loaded with adverse health effects (DNA damage, cancer, kidney damage, gastrointestinal disturbances, reproductive disorders … the list goes on). 

Conclusion – buyer beware, buyer enjoy


Life is rarely black and white. Running is good for your health, unless you get run over by a car. Religion is good for your soul, but may alienate you from your friends. And “patience is a virtue,” but they also say that success comes to those who seize the moment.

And so it is with coffee as it is with many other things in life; there are good things and bad things that can come to those who partake.  Consider your individual health issues and moderate your coffee consumption accordingly. Also consider drinking coffee in moderation (under four cups/day) to benefit from the benefits while reducing the risks.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


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