Is coffee healthy or is it bad for you? Debates happen often. The question is particularly important because it’s a constant presence in most of our lives. Just to be clear – the coffee referenced in this article does not include several packets of sugar or sugar substitute. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the way a lightly sugared cup of Joe tastes. Who wouldn’t? It’s desert in a cup. However, for purposes of this article, we are going to discuss the health benefits of plain, black coffee.
Coffee’s Health Benefits
I will be discussing the findings from two different studies. I have included links to both studies in case you would like additional information. They can be found here and here. Both studies found marked heath benefits in coffee drinkers compared to non-coffee drinkers. Also, the more coffee consumed (to a certain extent), the better the outcomes. Researchers found reductions in all causes of mortality (death related illnesses) and reductions in specific illnesses.
For instance, men who drank over 16 ounces per day had a 12% lower risk of all causes of mortality compared to non-coffee drinkers. Women coffee drinkers also had a 7% lower risk of all causes of mortality. So based on these two studies, drinking coffee can lower your risk of death. Consumption also reduced the risk of certain types of cancers, such as: skin, endometrial, prostate, and liver. The greatest benefit is seen with liver conditions. In addition, women can reduce their risk of digestive disease, circulatory disease, and cerebrovascular disease by at least 22%. All of this done by drinking 2-3 eight ounce cups per day.
How Much Should I drink?
However, there are a few limits. The studies show that after four, eight ounce cups of coffee, the benefits are not as great. There are also some instances in which drinking 2-3 cups is not recommended. Women who are pregnant, those with increased risk of fracture, and individuals with atrial fibrillation should always check with a physician before consuming coffee.
Antioxidants and Caffeine
With that said, scientists aren’t sure why coffee is beneficial. Antioxidants (chlorogenic acid) and caffeine seem to be the most obvious health properties. Antioxidants help protect cells from damage. As a matter of fact, most Americans get the majority of their antioxidants from coffee. Caffeine works as a stimulant to increase brain activity.
Just to reiterate, drinking coffee with sugar and cream can cause adverse effects. Unfortunately coffee isn’t the only part of optimal health. It is important to have a diet complete with proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits in addition to moderate exercise in order to reduce risks of all causes mortality.
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