I had my first sip of coffee when I was a little girl. My dad was (and still is) a coffee fanatic, and every time he ordered a cup of coffee, I asked if I could stir the coffee and sugar in for him. One day when my dad was at work, I saw my mom’s cup of coffee sitting on the dining table at breakfast. Gripped by my curiosity as to what that mysterious cup of dark liquid was, I took a little sip. I was absolutely repulsed. On that day, I swore that I would never enjoy coffee, much less drink it, even as an adult. My parents laughed at my childish oath, both insisting that my university experience and entering the workforce would not be complete without coffee, and would even necessitate it. And they were right. I first ventured into “coffee” in my second year of university with Starbuck’s caramel macchiato. It was pretty sweet and I couldn’t taste the coffee at all, a perfect (or not so perfect?) place to begin. I am proud to say that I have now moved onto drinking better coffee, and, as you can tell by my recent blog post on real deal pumpkin lattes, I am no longer a Starbucks drinker. To follow up that post, I decided to write another post exclusively on coffee’s potential health benefits and to debunk some myths surrounding the much-loved coffee bean.
When I hear people talking about their coffee consumption, I often hear people say they drink too much coffee and are trying to cut back. Although coffee is perceived as an unhealthy habit by many, a recent study undertaken by Harvard University shows that drinking up to six cups of coffee a day is not associated with increased mortality from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes. Unless you suffer from tremors, sleep deprivation, or are feeling stressed all the time, there is no real reason to cut back on your coffee consumption. The summary of Harvard’s research on coffee suggests that while there may be potential health benefits to drinking coffee, more research still needs to be done.
So, are there any health benefits to drinking coffee? Well, yes…
- Coffee is filled with anti-oxidants and flavonoids.
- Coffee drinkers have a reduced risk for diabetes. A study found that, compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers experienced reduced levels of interleukin and isoprostane, two inflammatory markers related to diabetes. If you’re not a fan of caffeine, there is also evidence that suggests decaf coffee may have the same effect as regular coffee.
- Those who drink more than 6 or 7 cups are 35% less likely to have and develop type 2 diabetes, while those who drink 4-6 cups are 28% less likely to.
- According to the American Academy of Neurology, caffeine (not coffee itself) helps alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. In a study conducted on patients of Pakinson’s Disease, those who consumed caffeine showed improvement in stiffness experienced and the speed of movement compared to those who did not consume caffeine.
- Another Harvard study found that adults who drink 2-4 cups of caffeinated coffee a day were less likely to be depressed and at risk of suicide: “Caffeine not only stimulates the central nervous system but may act as a mild antidepressant by boosting production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.” The study warns, however, that depressed adults should not increase their caffeine intake, as this could result in side effects.
- 112,897 men and women who drank coffee were observed over a 20 year period. What researchers discovered was that women who drank three or more cups a day were less at risk of developing skin cancer.
- Contrary to the popular belief that coffee dehydrates, scientists at the University of Birmingham found that “coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar hydrating qualities to water.” (Sidenote: I find myself feeling thirsty and dehydrated if my cup of coffee isn’t followed by a glass of water, so just listen to your body! Know when to stop with the caffeine and make sure you are hydrated regardless of whether you are drinking coffee.)
With the above in mind, it seems that coffee does appear to be beneficial to our health. It is important, however, to remember that one cup of coffee is an 8 ounce serving with 100mg of caffeine. The addition of milk, sugar, cream, and other artificial additives and flavourings not only strip much of coffee’s health benefits, but also have further implications for your health. And, as with everything we eat and drink, moderation is key.
So, what do you think? Are you a coffee addict? How does coffee make you feel? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy coffee drinking,