Coffee is more than a pick-me-up

Published: Jan. 2, 2019 at 4:05 PM EST
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Espressos, lattes, Frappuccinos – Americans love their coffee. But are there benefits for your body?

The National Coffee Association’s recent survey found the number of Americans drinking a daily cup of coffee is at its highest level since 2012. Does your cup of coffee have anything to offer other than that energy boost?

If you’re part of the 64 percent of Americans who drink coffee every day, we have good news: coffee drinkers have a longer lifespan. A 2015 study found that coffee consumption was associated with up to a 15 percent reduction in the risk of death.

And an article published by Harvard Medical School says that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes, gout and liver cancer.

It may also assist in your weight loss. Studies have shown that caffeine increases your metabolism. But if you’re watching your waistline, skip the creamers and added flavors.

“Even a 20 percent reduction in calories will have effects on your health in terms of cutting down blood sugar, cutting down weight, making you feel better,” Dr. Jean-Pierre Issa said.

Creamers are loaded with calories and added sugar, so try flavoring your coffee with cinnamon or natural cocoa.

Some research has also presented negative effects of coffee over the years, but most of these claims have been refuted.

One concern is that drinking very hot beverages increases the risk of esophageal cancer, but Harvard researchers say most people do not drink their coffee hot enough to qualify.



REPORT #2604

BACKGROUND: The number of Americans drinking a daily cup of coffee is at the highest level since 2012, with demand continuing to get a boost from at-home consumption and gourmet drinks. Sixty-four percent of Americans age 18 or over said they had a cup of coffee the previous day in 2018. That compares with 62 percent in 2017 and was roughly on par with levels last seen in 2012. The survey underscores a strong U.S. market for the caffeinated beverage even as demand for soda and juice continues a years-long decline. In the U. S., ready-to-drink products are boosting demand. In Brazil, pods and roast coffee are growing markets. “We see the cola industry is declining, but coffee is in the front row,” Roberto Vélez, head of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, said. Among the Americans surveyed, at-home preparation continues to be the dominant spot for demand, with 79 percent of those surveyed saying they had had a cup of coffee at home the previous day. Coffee consumed at cafes and other out-of-home locations totaled 36 percent. Use of smartphone apps and delivery services remains niche. Nine percent of Americans who drank coffee in the past week said they had ordered it through an app.


BENEFITS OF COFFEE: Over the last several decades, coffee has been among the most heavily studied dietary components. And the news is mostly good. Moderate coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death. Other studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke), type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, uterine and liver cancer, cirrhosis, and gout. The reason that coffee drinking might be beneficial is unknown. One factor, of course, could be the caffeine, but that can be hard to sort out from the research because many studies do not distinguish whether the coffee is caffeinated or decaffeinated. In a June 2016 report, the World Health Organization officially removed coffee from the list of potentially carcinogenic foods. It went on to designate coffee as potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver.


NEW RESEARCH CONTINUES: “Our study provides further evidence that drinking coffee, regular or decaf, can be part of a healthy diet and offers reassurance to coffee drinkers,” said Marilyn Cornelis, PhD, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Nutrition and a co-author of the study. In the past, research has generally found a link between drinking coffee and a decreased risk of major diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, as well as overall mortality. However, concerns remained about the health effects of heavy coffee drinking, particularly in people with common genetic variants that affect caffeine metabolism. In the current study, the team of investigators analyzed data from a cohort of a half million people living in the United Kingdom, ranging in age from 38 to 73. The study included data on coffee consumption, as well as genetic variants related to caffeine metabolism. The investigators found that over 10 years of follow-up, coffee drinking was associated with a significantly lower risk of death, including among people who drank eight or more cups per day. The benefit was also found in both slow and fast metabolizers of caffeine, as well as across various types of coffee, including ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee.