February 14

The Power of Good Health

Power of Good Health Monthly Column

According to the Mayo Clinic, the surprising answer is “yes.” They state, “For most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.” To quote Michael Downey, writing for Life Extension, “Research suggests that far from being a guilty pleasure that should be limited, coffee is an all natural and an inexpensive elixir.”

What does research reveal about coffee and health? Below you will see coffee in a new way. It’s not the same old grind!

Coffee Chatter
According to coffeeresearch.org, the average American coffee drinker imbibes a little over three cups of coffee every day. However, among both coffee drinkers and nondrinkers, many assume coffee intake should be limited.

That attitude is changing. A growing body of research shows that, compared to nondrinkers, coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, heart problems, strokes, certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease, dementia (including Alzheimer’s), or obesity.

Not only does coffee confer amazing and totally unexpected health benefits, research suggests that these benefits increase with intake. For example, drinking just one cup of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee daily can decrease the risk of developing diabetes by 13 percent, while the real coffee addicts, those who consume up to 12 cups per day, slash their risk by as much as 67 percent!

Just Got to Have Another Cup of Java?
In 2012, the National Institutes of Health and AARP co-sponsored a study analyzing the relationship between coffee drinking and mortality. They found that people who drank any amount of coffee lived longer than those who drank no coffee at all. Similar results were revealed by a 22-year study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health. Those researchers stated, “The overall balance of risks and benefits of coffee consumption are on the side of benefits.”

How Does Coffee Affect Diabetes?
Among coffee’s many health perks, curtailing the development of type 2 diabetes is paramount. This disease is becoming a worldwide epidemic. In 2011, the International Diabetes Federation announced the estimated number of people afflicted is approaching 366 million! The real news is that heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to develop diabetes as light or nondrinkers.

According to Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, at the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee may contain ingredients that lower blood sugar.1 Furthermore, a coffee habit may increase your resting metabolism rate, also helping to keep diabetes at bay. His comments are based on 15 published studies, most of which show an association between coffee and the prevention of diabetes.

A meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine combined data from over 450,000 people. Resulting statistics showed that every additional cup of caffeinated or decaf per day lowered the risk of diabetes by 5-10 percent. Meanwhile, “The Strong Heart Study” showed that those drinking 12 cups per day slashed their risk by 67 percent. (Not to worry, read on….)2

Heart Disease
Coffee drinking is no longer thought to be a risk factor for the heart according to a 2008 article in the International Journal of Cardiology. Even blood pressure is not affected as previously thought. Compounds in coffee actually lower blood pressure over the long-term, while decreasing the risk of CVD and possibly stroke as well.

Although coffee raises blood pressure right after it is consumed, the body habituates over time so that this no longer happens. In fact, readings decreased after eight weeks of daily consumption. This is thought to be the result of a beneficial affect of coffee on the arteries.

Just a cup of coffee inhibits blood thickening within an hour (regardless of caffeine content); decreases coronary calcification; reduces inflammation; and raises HDL (good cholesterol) levels.

On the other hand, the Harvard health site reports that, “Two substances in coffee, kahweol and cafestol, raise cholesterol levels and paper filters capture these substances.” Also, researchers have found a link between cholesterol and decaffeinated coffee.

Lastly, statistics from the famous Nurses’ Health Study indicate that for women, several cups of coffee on a daily basis results in a 20 percent lower risk of a stroke. There are 83,700 nurses enrolled in this study. The results are based on reported coffee intake and hold true whether women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s.

Next Time
What Does Research Reveal About Coffee and Health? The Way Coffee Works

Footnotes:
1    Dr. Hu reported on the known and possible benefits of coffee in an interview with WebMD.
2    Zhang Y, Lee ET, Cowan LD, Fabsitz RR, Howard BV. Coffee consumption and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in men and women with normal glucose tolerance: The Strong Heart Study. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, 2011, June 21(6):418-23

Siri Khalsa is the editor of Nutrition News, and she has been writing for the publication for many years. She has the passion and dedication to educate readers on the health benefits on tea and coffee.

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