What is new with drinking coffee for good health?
The truth behind coffee
Hey, Hey, Heeeeyyy coffee lovers!! You are my tribe 😍. I could just sit at the coffee shop, inhaling that exquisite aroma all day long. After a glass of water, a cup of coffee is the first food item I crave in my day.
Coffee is the most consumed beverage in the world. Estimates state that the world consumes about 1.6 billion cups of coffee every day. So, if you find yourself lusting after coffee, you are in good company!
If left to my own devices, I would be happy drinking a cup of coffee throughout the day. Unfortunately, I am very caffeine sensitive, so I don’t drink it after 1pm. Plus, I limit myself to one cup per day. I love espresso coffee, I really don’t like the watered down version fashionably called Café Americano. Espresso has higher caffeine content than regular coffee. If I drink more than one, my heart starts racing and I feel a bit anxious. Definitely jealous of the hubs, who can drink it anytime without any problems!
In the past coffee had gotten a bad rep. It was seen as something unhealthy people did. It was a vice you enjoyed as you smoked your cigarette. This view has certainly been evolving over the last few years, as research investigates coffee and its components. Is drinking coffee for good health possible? Could it be a virtue?! Let’s see.
Drinking coffee for good health
So what exactly makes up coffee?
Many good things it turns out! Aaaannnnnd a couple of not so great.
Coffee contains more than a thousand different compounds, a few of the main ones are listed here:
- Chlorogenic acid: This is the most abundant polyphenol in coffee. You may remember we talked about phenolic compounds in our post on coconut oil (here). These compounds are very strong antioxidants. Coffee has a significant amount of these!
- Caffeine: Many of us know that reaching for that cup of coffee will give you a quick pick me up thanks to the caffeine. The amount of caffeine varies depending on the type of coffee. Regular coffee contains between 19 and 130 mg per 8oz (240 ml). A single shot of espresso (35-50ml) contains a much higher content, from 58 to 76 mg. Want to know more about caffeine and it’s effects? Check out this post!
- Diterpenes: These compounds are thought to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial action. There is also some conflicting evidence that these guys may raise our blood cholesterol.
- Melanoidins: These are formed by the roasting of the green coffee beans. Plenty of studies suggest they have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
- Trigonelline: This plant alkaloid is derived from Vitamin B6. It is thought to contribute to the bitter taste of coffee.
In addition, coffee contains several beneficial vitamins and minerals including magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and niacin. So, maybe drinking coffee for good health is an option!
What about coffee varieties and processing?
There are two main types of drinking coffee: arabica (most common) and robusta. The only reason to know about these (other than general interest or knowledge for trivia) is because they differ a bit in composition.
Arabica contains more lipids, while robusta has more caffeine and polyphenols.
The processing of coffee changes its composition. Roasting may cause break down of many of the antioxidants compounds. Hence, to try to bypass the loss, green coffee supplements are now available everywhere.
Other things that may also alter its composition are brewing and extraction methods: boiled, filtered, decaf, pressure or infusion extraction.
Interestingly, the process of decaffeination reduces the amount of antioxidants present by decreasing the amount of polyphenols.
What is the good and the bad?
Antioxidants may help protect against inflammation and as we mentioned, coffee has high antioxidant content. This may play a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis (see this post to learn about fat metabolism).
Animal studies with diabetic rats, showed a decrease in blood concentration of cholesterol, triglycerides, free fatty acid and LDL.
There are some conflicting studies regarding the diterpenes and a suggestion that these compounds may increase cholesterol. However, the diterpenes are mostly removed through filtrated and instant coffee processing.
Green coffee extract containing 56% cholorogenic acid showed a decrease in blood pressure after 28 days of consumption in a study with 117 men. Melanoidins also seemed to help lower blood pressure as well.
However, caffeine is a stimulant that increases heart rate and blood pressure. Scientists believe that the interplay between the pro-high blood pressure and anti-high blood pressure effects in coffee probably cancel each other out.
Overall, it is likely that the interplay between all these compounds renders coffee protective of heart health. So, heartwise, consider drinking coffee for good health.
Consuming cholorogenic acids seems to reduce the fasting blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity in animal studies. Many other studies have further explored the relationship between coffee components and glucose, leading us to believe that it may be protective against the development of type 2 diabetes. It turns of drinking coffee for good health from a diabetes standpoint is a good idea.
Drinking coffee may help slow the progressive muscle mass and strength loss that occurs as we age. After the age of 50, we start losing muscle mass at a rate of 1-2% per year.
A study looking at caffeinated coffee consumption in elderly mice showed greater muscle mass and strength in the coffee drinkers than in the non-coffee drinkers.
Other studies have further supported these results, so it seems coffee increases the regenerative capacity of muscles. For muscles, drinking coffee for good health helps!
Previous research suggested that coffee consumption could worsen psychiatric conditions. However, a review of the more recent research showed low to moderate caffeine consumption to reduce the risk of developing depression. Also, symptoms improved in depressed patients. They did observe that symptoms were worse in those with post-partum depression or, as you may imagine, those with anxiety disorders. So, coffee is good for mood unless you have anxiety issues or post partum depression.
Early research suggested that coffee increased the risk of some cancers, however, most studies today disagree with this belief. Studies consistently show that coffee protects against liver cancer and seems to be protective against colon cancer. There is no association between risk of breast or prostate cancer and coffee consumption. Analysis of women with postmenopausal breast cancer, breast cancer survivors, advanced prostate cancer and prostate cancer survivors showed an inverse relationship with coffee intake. So, the more coffee drank, the less of certain types of cancer, in a nutshell.
Putting it all together
In general, coffee can help lower your cardiovascular risk and improve your lipid profile, decrease your risk of diabetes, help with your mood and depressive symptoms and it can prevent certain types of cancer.
I didn’t mention this, but it can also help to increase your exercise output and your attention. Other studies have also suggested a reduction in development of Parkinson’s disease, risk of suicide and risk of death from all causes. Many potential benefits that reinforce drinking coffee for good health.
As everything, do it in moderation. If you have issues such as heartburn, remember caffeine can aggravate that.
Ok guys, I am off to get my Monday coffee. I think today I will do an almond milk latte . What is your favorite way to drink coffee?
See you next week! ❤️