Should You Drink That Fourth Cup of Coffee?

Findings in a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona have some great news for us coffee drinkers.  Researchers found that people drinking four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of dying than people who consumed little to no coffee.  Researchers followed ~20,000 people for 10 years and found those consuming more coffee- four cups to be exact- lived longer.  Dr. Navarro, the study’s head author, concluded, “Our findings suggest that drinking four cups of coffee each day can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people.”  As it turns out, coffee SHOULD be an essential part of many people’s diet.

This study further supports research done earlier this year on caffeine consumption in older adults2.  Researchers from Stanford University found that caffeine (found in coffee) may offset age-related inflammation.  Inflammation is thought to be responsible for many of the cardiovascular and systemic diseases we see as a person ages (cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease).  According to the study’s lead author, David Furman, PhD, “More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation.”

This is great news.  Something so widely consumed around the world is actually good for us, what a relief!  The studies don’t go into detail about how coffee exerts such a protective effect on the body.  However we do know that coffee is very high in antioxidants, which help to protect your cells from a process called oxidation.  Oxidation is responsible for damaging your cells and left un-checked, can cause cellular death.  Coffee helps to offset this effect.  Another benefit of coffee is its anti-inflammatory properties.  As stated above, inflammation is responsible for many of the deleterious effects of aging we see in so many people.  Coffee can help to offset some of these through its anti-inflammatory goodness.

While this is great news for those of us who love our coffee, there are certain populations that should not consume as many as four cups of coffee per day.  These are people who have adverse reactions to caffeine.  For example, if you get heart arrhythmia, extra beats, or a racing heart, you should be limiting your coffee consumption and consulting your physician.  Those with hypertension would also do well to avoid excess coffee, as coffee is a vasoconstrictor, causing blood pressure to elevate slightly when consumed.

Another important caveat, these studies looked at black coffee consumption.  They did not include coffee consumption with cream and sweetener.  It is best to avoid these two unhealthy add-ons as they only put extra sugar in your coffee, something no one needs.

As we continue to gather research, it’s becoming more apparent that coffee consumption is beneficial to health.  While the exact mechanisms remain unknown.

 

References:

 

  1. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/higher-coffee-consumption-associated-with-lower-risk-of-death
  2. Furman, David, et al. “Expression of specific inflammasome gene modules stratifies older individuals into two extreme clinical and immunological states.” Nature Medicine, vol. 23, no. 2, 2017, pp. 174–184., doi:10.1038/nm.4267.