Researchers find more evidence that our coffee addiction could be a good thing
Coffee may be doing more than just waking you up in the morning.
New research from Spain has found that drinking four cups a day was correlated with a 64% reduction in your risk of dying. What’s more, those who are 45 and older who drink an additional two cups a day (a total of six) cut their mortality risk by another 30%.
“Coffee is full of antioxidants — there are some suggestions that coffee might be the largest source of antioxidants in the American diet,” says Dr. Sanjey Gupta, vice chairman of emergency medicine at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
“Interestingly enough, the report doesn’t specify whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated — rather, the researchers looked at total coffee consumption,” notes best-selling author Joy Bauer, NBC’s TODAY Show nutritionist and founder of Nourish Snacks. “It’s unclear if the benefits are coming from caffeine or antioxidants or both,” Bauer adds, “but drinking coffee can be very helpful on the health front.”
“The big thing here is… if you’re already a coffee drinker — drink up, rejoice,” she concludes.
This isn’t the first time coffee has been proven to percolate some serious medical benefits. Here are a few others:
1. Type-2 Diabetes: Researchers at Harvard University found that drinking one additional cup of coffee a day helped to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes by 11%. Among people who cut back their consumption by a cup a day, their risk actually increased 17%, according to HealthLine.
2. Aging: Researchers at Stanford University uncovered a link between caffeine consumption and aging. The body’s natural inflammatory process, which is associated with aging and cardiovascular disease in elderly people, was far less active among those who regularly consumed caffeine, making coffee a good choice.
3. Liver cancer: The risk of developing the most common type of liver cancer — called hepaptocellular cancer, or HCC — can be substantially reduced by drinking coffee (either regular or decaf), researchers at two UK universities found. One cup a day lowered the risk of HCC by 20%, two cups by 35%, and five cups by 50%.
4. Alzheimer’s: Coffee can mitigate the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease, which affects more than five million Americans, researchers at Old Dominion University in Virginia found. It reduces beta amyloid, a protein often found in the brains of people diagnosed with the memory-crippling condition, by up to 50%.
If you’re a coffee fan, experts say you should still drink responsibly in spite of the latest research. “Black coffee is the golden child,” says Bauer, who cautions that overloading our drinks with excessive cream or sugar can negate the benefits. “A splash of milk [is fine], and if you need sugar, no more than a teaspoon,” she recommends.
Plus, coffee can have its disadvantages, too. “It can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), and can also increase your heart rate,” Gupta warns. “If you have certain baseline diseases, caffeine may not be recommended.” Symptoms of too much include jitters and impaired concentration.
For those who abstain from coffee for reasons like these, Bauer says there’s a silver lining: “There are so many other things that enhance your health and boost the quality of your life. There are plenty of other ways to reap the benefits of healthy living.”
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