Plot twist: Coffee is not bad for us...? Learn about what your drinking this morning!
Art by Sylwia Holmes
The first things I heard about the relationship between coffee and our health were all negative. It is believed that coffee may cause ulcers, it can aggravate our nerves, that it could become addictive, and that it is just bad for our overall health. But recent studies may be shining a new light on the world’s most commonly bought/sold beverage in the world today.
Opinions on coffee started changing in 2008 when Harvard published an experiment that followed over 130,000 people who had been studied for the past 20 years. The first thing that the scientists noticed was that there seemed to be no direct variation between the number of people who consumed up to 6 cups of coffee every day and the number of people who suffered heart failure, liver failure, and cancer. Preventive Medicine Specialist Donald Hensrud (from the Mayo Clinic) suggests that:
“Earlier studies didn't always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers at that time".
Contrary to what we have been told in the past about coffee’s effect on our hearts, the “Kaiser Permanente” study from 2010 (performed by the American Heart Association) actually proved that regular coffee drinkers had a lower risk of being hospitalized for heart problems or for heart rhythm disturbances. The study was performed on 130,000 health plan members. Those who reported drinking an average of 1-3 cups of coffee each day were less likely to suffer heart problems than those who didn’t drink coffee, regardless of any other risk-factors.
A study performed in the United States by BIDMC (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and Boston’s Harvard School of Public Health in 2012 concluded that drinking coffee actually protected (slightly) against heart failure.
WOMEN WHO REGULARLY DRINK COFFEE MAY BE LESS LIKELY TO HAVE A STROKE.
In March 2011, research led by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, that followed over 30,000 women for 10 years, found those who drank more than one cup of coffee per day appeared to have a 22 to 25% lower risk of stroke, compared to non-drinkers.
The researchers also found that ‘low or no coffee consumption was associated with an increased risk of stroke in women’.” (Medical News Today).
Besides potentially preventing heart failure and strokes, coffee is actually high in magnesium and chromium which our bodies need to balance the production of insulin. Insulin controls our blood sugar levels. So drinking coffee regularly can prevent us from getting diabetes. It can’t protect us from it 100% (obviously) but it can significantly lower our risks of getting diabetes. According to Edward Giovannucci, coffee is “Emerging as a protective agent in cancers that are linked to obesity, estrogen, and insulin”.
While it may not be able to reverse the effects of cancer, it seems to help to prevent it. Doctor Giovannucci and his colleagues are reporting that the anti-inflammatory agents found in coffee may be what are responsible for slowing and preventing cancerous activity.
Coffee is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can delay or prevent cell damage in our bodies. Antioxidants are most commonly found in fruits, veggies, and dietary supplements. Recent studies are showing that coffee may even contain more antioxidants than some fruits and vegetables.
So just how much is an average intake of coffee? According to research by Mayo Clinic, a maximum of 100 milligrams of caffeine (about one 8 oz cup of coffee) a day seems to be a safe amount for teens/ adolescents while most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine. There is about the same amount of caffeine in 2 cups of caffeinated coffee as there is in an energy shot or 5 CANS of pop!
Of course adding syrups, flavoring, sugar, cream, etc., to our coffee can work to counteract the health benefits but research seems to be saying that the good may be outweighing the bad here. Coffee can lower our risks of getting diabetes, various types of cancer, having a stroke, and heart problems. So make like a Gilmore and get yourself another cup.
Sources: Mayo Clinic Research Nurse’s Health Study Medical News Today Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center American Heart Association