Coffee served with health benefits

As a passionate coffee enthusiast, I have been searching for reasons to keep my minor addiction to it. And it seems like the health benefits of coffee might do just that.

Fortunately, over the last several decades, coffee has reached the list of the most carefully studied dietary components which led to some interesting results. The scale started tipping in favour of the health benefits of coffee and we are getting a clearer picture of how coffee influences our physical well being. 

Therefore, I asked my dear teammate, Anna Poretta, to answer the following questions regarding the health benefits of coffee and explain how our bodies respond to the consummation of this popular beverage. As a nutritionist who obtained her degree at the University of Toronto, and as someone who has worked as a Registered Dietitian in public health for approximately 13 years, Anna offered to expertly lead us through the maze of medical terms and chemical components. 

So let’s see what health benefits are brewing in a cup full of delicious coffee!

Can coffee improve our lifespan?

A study from the European Society of Cardiology tracked 20,000 people over 10 years and found that individuals who drank at least two cups of coffee per day were 22% more likely to have a longer lifespan while those who drank at least four cups were 64% more likely to achieve the same outcome, particularly people age 45 and older. There is a caveat, though. These benefits studied are specific to black coffee so, if you add sugar or high-fat cream, those additions may nullify the health benefits of coffee.

Is reduced risk of type 2 Diabetes one of the health benefits of coffee?

In the research based on 1,109,272 study participants and 45,335 cases of type 2 diabetes, the findings demonstrate an inverse correlation between coffee consumption and the risk of diabetes. Compared with no coffee consumption, 6 cups/day of coffee was associated with a 33% lower risk of type 2 diabetes and the correlation was consistent for men and women. A further aim of the review was to compare the effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee was associated with the same level of protection as seen for caffeinated coffee. 

What is the correlation between coffee and cardiovascular disease?

Five independent studies conducted in 2012 found a significant relationship between coffee and heart failure, with the strongest inverse association for 4 servings per day at an 11% lower risk. One research from 2017. found that coffee consumption was consistently associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke with the largest reduction in risk at three cups a day. Compared with non-drinkers, risks were reduced by 19% for mortality from cardiovascular disease, 16% for mortality from coronary heart disease, and 30% for mortality from stroke.

What beneficial nutrients does the coffee contain?

Coffee contains a number of beneficial nutrients such as riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), potassium, magnesium, and polyphenols like chlorogenic acid (as much as 300 milligrams per cup), which is a type of antioxidant. Coffee is one of the main sources of antioxidants in the Western diet, as per a 2014 study in Antioxidant, and a cup of coffee contains more than 1,000 compounds with high-antioxidant capacity. 

One study compared the antioxidant contribution of coffee to other foods such as vegetables, fruit, wine, grains, and green tea. It was found that coffee contributes over 600% more antioxidants than the next nearest contributor, fruit. Considering antioxidants can help the body remove free radicals, which are a type of waste product naturally formed during physical activity and when the body converts food to energy, this is another health benefit of coffee that we truly welcome.

What is the correlation between coffee and colon cancer?

Coffee contains a number of compounds that may reduce cancer risk. A large study, which included 489,706 men and women over a 10.5-year follow-up, examined the correlation between the coffee intake in relation and the risk of colon cancer. Drinking 1-4 cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 15% and drinking 4-6 cups a day can reduce the risk by 26%.

How much coffee is safe to drink on a daily basis?

Research shows that a cup full of delicious hot coffee also serves some prominent health benefits, but what is the recommended caffeine intake on a daily basis?  

For healthy adults, Health Canada advises no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day – about three 8 ounce cups (237 mL) of brewed coffee per day. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and women who are planning to become pregnant should limit their intake to no more than 300 milligrams per day – a little over two 8 ounces (237 mL) cups of coffee.

Although many studies have shown that our favorite daily ritual offers more than relaxation, the health benefits of coffee come with a grain of salt, rather than sugar. If we restrain ourselves from adding too much cream, or sugar for that matter,  and if we pay attention to how many cups of coffee we drink on a daily basis, we can just sit back then and enjoy–with a cup of coffee on the side, of course.

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