With the immense popularity of coffee around the world, it is safe to say most coffee lovers do not think twice before pouring their first, second...heck, even third cup of the delightful stuff in the morning. That is, except for you. Yes, you reading this article right now, wondering about the benefits of coffee. Is coffee good for you? Is coffee bad for you? What about the benefits of black coffee? What are the side effects?
Fun Coffee Fact: Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day, or 146 billion cups each year. [Rush.edu]
You're in the right place, we're going to cover quite a bit about coffee in this piece. So without further ado, let's begin.
What are the benefits of coffee?
1. Coffee can improve one's overall health
In a study published in the BMJ in 2017, an analysis of nearly 220 coffee studies found that coffee drinkers may enjoy increased overall health benefits than people who do not drink any. The study found evidence that the largest relative risk reduction at three to four cups a day versus none, including all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular disease. High versus low coffee consumption was also associated with an 18% lower risk of incident cancer. (bmj.com) It's important to note, the largest risk reduction for various health outcomes, at three to four cups per day was more likely to benefit health than harm.
Fun Coffee Fact: Finland consumes the most coffee per capita, at 26.5 pounds per person, each year. That's 2.2 pounds every month! [Telegraph.co.uk]
2. Coffee can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
In a 2014 Diabetologia study, researchers found that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day over a 4 year period had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the following 4 years compared with those who made no changes in coffee consumption. Additionally, participants who decreased their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day had a 17% higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, decaf coffee and tea has also been shown to lower risk for type 2 diabetes. In another study, researchers found that for every additional cup of coffee consumed in a day, there was a 7% reduction in the excess risk of diabetes relative risk.
3. Coffee can reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease
Results of case-control studies suggest that coffee and caffeine intakes are inversely associated with the risk of Parkinson's disease. A study of over 8,000 men found that those who did not drink coffee were 3-5 times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease over the next 24-30 years than those who drank at least 28oz daily.
Fun Coffee Fact: There is only 1 calorie in a typical 8-ounce cup of black coffee!
4. Coffee consumption can decrease suicide risk
In 2017, there were 47,173 reported suicide deaths in the United States alone. A benefit of coffee consumption has been found to reduce the risk of suicide. In a 10-year study of more than 128,000 men and women, researchers found that the relative risk of suicide decreased by 13% for every cup of coffee consumed daily. A similar study found that women who drank at least 2 cups of coffee per day had a risk of suicide that was 50% lower than women who did not drink coffee. However, those who consumed at least 8 cups of coffee daily had a 58% higher risk of suicide. The benefits of coffee are found at reasonable levels of consumption.
5. Drinking coffee can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and additional heart benefits
Studies have proven that moderate coffee consumption is not a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Moderate consumption defined as 1-4 cups of coffee per day. An additional benefit of drinking black coffee shows that drinking a moderate amount (4 cups per day) can lower risks of heart failure. Benefits of drinking coffee can also reduce the risk of death in patients who have had a myocardial infarction.
Coffee Fact: It takes about 140 liters (37 U.S. gal) of water to grow the coffee beans needed to produce one cup of coffee, and coffee is often grown in countries where there is a water shortage, such as Ethiopia. [NewScientist.com]
6. Drinking coffee can reduce the risk of cirrhosis
Coffee consumption was found to reduce the risk of cirrhosis in several studies. An 8-year study found that the risk of death from alcoholic cirrhosis was 22% lower per cup of coffee consumed daily.
What are the risks and side effects of coffee?
After covering some, not all, of the benefits of drinking coffee above, you may be thinking it's some super drink that will heal all ailments. While the health benefits of coffee, particularly black coffee are impressive, there are some side effects of coffee it would be wise to be aware of.
1. High coffee intakes can increase the risk of Coronary Heart Disease or myocardial infarction
In multiple studies, researchers found that participants who consumed 5 or more cups of coffee daily had a risk of coronary heart disease that was 40-60% higher than those who did not drink coffee. However, study results are not clear, some studies have not found significant associations between coffee intake and CHD risk.
2. Drinking coffee may increase anxiety
Short-term effects of caffeine consumption include enhanced mood and alertness, improved exercise performance, increased blood pressure, improved ability to remain awake and mentally alert after fatigue, faster information processing speed and reaction time, and heightened awareness and attention. For coffee drinkers prone to anxiety, the side effects of coffee and caffeine may increase feelings of anxiety and should be consumed in moderate levels.
3. Drinking coffee may cause diarrhea and worsen irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
We are all familiar with having to poop almost immediately after drinking the first sip of coffee. Caffeine can trigger contractions in the colon which then push contents towards the rectum, which is the final section of your digestive tract. Caffeine consumed in large amounts may also worsen diarrhea.
In conclusion, Coffee consumption seems generally safe within usual levels of intake, with summary estimates indicating largest risk reduction for various health outcomes at three to four cups a day, and more likely to benefit health than harm. [BMJ.com]