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A beloved beverage throughout the USA and the world at large, coffee is often blamed for various health woes. While coffee is not appropriate for everyone, and there is such a thing as “too much” for even the most tolerant of sippers, research has shown a vast array of health benefits.

The abundant phytochemicals found in coffee beans are responsible for the various benefits, including potential prevention of diseases such as Diabetes mellitus type II, Alzheimer’s disease and even cancer. Of course, we cannot overlook the well-loved stimulant effect of coffee that reliably provides us with increased stamina during exercise, and temporarily improves our cognitive function. Moreover, coffee simply makes mornings tastier.

Following is a brief overview discussing a few of the benefits to coffee consumption. These are presented in defense of coffee and as a thank you to its many active phytochemicals, including caffeine, caffeic acid, hydroxyhydroquine, chlorogenic acid, cafestol and kahweol.

 

Coffee consumption has been linked with a lower risk for Diabetes Type II.
The leading theory is that active compounds from the roasted coffee bean, including caffeine and caffeic acid, help to decrease the low-level inflammation associated with diabetes mellitus through anti-oxidant action. Coffee may not directly alter how your body metabolizes blood sugar throughout the day, but it does decrease your risk by lowering inflammation!

Coffee may increase total cholesterol, but it improves the LDL to HDL ratio.
A 2010 study found that regular coffee consumption increased total cholesterol, but much of this rise in blood lipids was due to an increase in the “good” cholesterol, HDL. The LDL (“bad” cholesterol) to HDL ratio actually improved. This suggests that coffee intake may offer cardiovascular protection in those with low to normal total cholesterol, and low HDL. Cafestol and kahweol, the coffee compounds believed to cause these effects, are highest in unfiltered coffee.

Six cups a days may prevent colorectal cancer.
A study published 2012 suggested that 4 daily cups of coffee can decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 15%, while 6 daily cups may decrease your risk by as much as 40%. The study looked at nearly 500,000 middle-aged Americans, comparing their reported coffee intake to cancer outcomes over a 10 year period. Sadly, 3 cups or less per day did not significantly decrease risks of colorectal cancer.

Coffee can lift your mood, thanks to caffeine and possibly chlorogenic acid.
Caffeine is already established as a reliable, short term enhancer for cognitive function and mood. Recent findings suggest that chlorogenic acid, a component found in both regular and decaf coffee, may be involved in the mood-lifting effects of coffee. Caffeine or no caffeine, coffee may brighten your day.

 

Stamina, mood enhancement, and cholesterol aside, there are individuals who should limit or avoid coffee. This includes:
1. Individuals with hypertension, especially uncontrolled hypertension
2. Women who are pregnant, suffering from infertility, or symptoms of menopause
3. Individuals with high cholesterol
4. Children and adolescents
5. Individuals with known coffee allergy or food sensitivity

For those limiting their intake, most studies suggest health-altering side effects (both negative and positive) are not experienced with 3 or fewer cups of caffeinated coffee per day.

Dr. Kaley Bourgeois

 

 

References:
1. Butts, MS, et al. “Coffee and its consumption: benefits and risks.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 51.4 (2011): 363-73. Print.
2. Cropley, V. “Does coffee enriched with chlorogenic acids improve mood and cognition after acute administration in healthy elderly? A pilot study.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 219.3 (2012): 737-49. Print.
3. Higdon, JF, et al. “Coffee and health: a review of recent human research.” Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 46.2 (2006): 101-23. Print.
4. Johnson-Kozlow, M, et al. “Coffee consumption and cognitive function among older adults.” Am J Epidemiol. 156.9 (2002): 842-50. Print.
5. Kempf, K, et al. “Effects of coffee consumption on subclinical inflammation and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes: a clinical trial.” Am J Clin Nutr. 91.4 (2009): 950-7. Print.
6. Sinha R, et al. Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea intakes and risk of colorectal cancer in a large prospective study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online June 13 2012