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  • Writer's pictureDr. Bonnie Verhunce

Is Coffee Healthy? - 7/7/2020

Coffee can have a stimulating effect on people because of its caffeine content, but a regular brewed cup of coffee has no significant or essential nutrients. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Clinical studies indicate that moderate coffee consumption is benign or mildly beneficial in healthy adults, with continuing research on whether long-term consumption inhibits cognitive decline during aging or lowers the risk of some forms of cancer.

However, espresso coffee, likely because of the way it is brewed, has a significant content of magnesium, niacin (B3), and riboflavin (B2). According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, an 8-ounce (237 ml) cup of "coffee brewed from grounds" contains 95mg of caffeine, whereas an espresso (25 ml) contains only 53 mg.

A protective effect of caffeine against Alzheimer’s disease seems to be possible, but the evidence is inconclusive. Moderate coffee consumption may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and it may somewhat reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking four or more cups of coffee per day does not seem to affect the risk of hypertension compared to drinking little or no coffee.

Preliminary research discussed at a 2009 health conference revealed that coffee may reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Another study showed people who drank one or more cups of regular coffee daily, cut their risk of Parkinson’s disease by 60%.

In 2012, the National Institutes of Health – AARP Diet and Health Study analyzed the relationship between coffee drinking and mortality. They found that higher, moderate coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of heart failure or death and that those who drank any coffee lived longer than those who did not. Additional meta-analysis studies corroborated these findings, showing that higher coffee consumption (2–4 cups per day) was associated with a reduced risk of death by all disease causes.

In one preliminary study, habitual coffee consumption was associated with improved vascular function. Another recent meta-analysis showed that coffee consumption was associated with a reduced risk of death in patients who had experienced a myocardial infarction. Researchers involved in an ongoing 22-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health stated that

"Coffee may have potential health benefits, but more research needs to be done.

Can Coffee Be Unhealthy?

Coffee is slightly acidic and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. Caffeine can increase blood pressure and long-term consumption at sufficiently high doses has been associated with chronic arterial stiffness. Coffee and caffeine can affect the gastrointestinal system of the body including gastric acid secretion.

In postmenopausal women, high caffeine consumption can accelerate bone loss causing osteoporosis. Caffeine can increase intraocular pressure in people who have glaucoma. Caffeine can also cause the body to release the hormone cortisol which suppresses your immune system.

Findings have been contradictory as to whether coffee has any specific health benefits and results are similarly conflicting regarding the potentially harmful effects of coffee consumption. Furthermore, results and generalizations are complicated by differences in age, gender, health status, and serving size.

Regardless of the pros and cons, most of us start our daily routine enjoying a cup of hot coffee.

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