What are the health benefits of coffee?
It seems like coffee is always in the news, with studies declaring it healthy, bad for you or the latest miracle cure for some kind of condition. While many studies seem to contradict each other, it’s generally thought the health benefits of coffee do out way the adverse effects.
Read on to find out more…
The nutritional health benefits of coffee
The stimulant properties of coffee help us feel more energised and can improve mood, memory and cognitive function. This may not prevent you from getting ill but can contribute to productivity.
Roasted coffee is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent our bodies’ cells being oxidised by toxins and chemicals. Diets high in antioxidants are thought to reduce the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease. Coffee also contains B vitamins, potassium and magnesium, providing vital minerals.
While these nutritional properties may not match those of healthy foods, many of the compounds found in coffee can help us feel our best and lead a more active life.
Coffee consumption and cancer
In June 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) removed coffee from their list of potentially carcinogenic (potentially cancerous) foods. Previously, it was thought that regular coffee consumption could increase the risk of some cancers, but this has been disputed.
When WHO removed coffee as a carcinogen, they also noted some potential benefits. This included listing coffee as protective against cancer of the liver and uterus.
The World Cancer Research Fund International has backed this assertion, linking moderate coffee consumption with a lower risk of several types of cancer. Coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of head and neck, colorectal and breast cancer, though the benefits are not completely understood.
There are hundreds of biologically active compounds found in roasted coffee, making it impossible to know which, if any, correlate to reduced cancer risk. Long terms health studies are complicated by lifestyles factors such as diet, exercise and smoking, making it harder to pin down a direct link.
Coffee and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was 11% lower for participants who drank more than one cup of coffee per day for over 4 years. This study confirmed the findings of previous studies of the same subject and, interestingly, found that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee lowered the risk.
Can coffee lengthen your life?
It’s been widely reported that drinking coffee daily can increase your life span, most recently by a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which received a lot of media attention. The study suggested consuming three cups per day could lower the risk of death from several key conditions including heart disease, leading to a longer life.
Although the study followed a significant number of people (500,000), critics pointed out the study failed to consider economic, social and other lifestyle factors associated with regular coffee consumption that could have contributed to their findings.
Are there any health risks to drinking coffee?
There’s no strong evidence to say coffee is damaging to health in the same way that smoking, drinking alcohol or eating a high fat, high sugar diet is. But, like most things in life, if consumed in large amounts, coffee has some negative side effects, mainly due to its caffeine content.
These include restlessness, anxiety and irritability. Dehydration, headaches and dizziness are also signs you’ve drunk too much caffeine. In the long term, consuming too much caffeine on a daily basis can cause sleep problems and contribute to anxiety and mood fluctuations.
We’ve all had one coffee too many and felt the after effects. The most important thing is to be aware of how drinking coffee affects your body, as this will be different for everyone.
Knowing how caffeine affects you and regulating your consumption in line with this is the best way to maintain a healthy balance. It will mean your coffee drinking is always an enjoyable experience.