Liz's Blog for a Healthier, Happier Life

Drink Coffee, Live Longer, and Smile More!

Are you tired of hearing about all the foods you’re supposed to limit or avoid? Would you welcome some uplifting, jump-for-joy, nutrition news instead?  For all the coffee lovers in the crowd (and there are lots of you!), here’s what I want you to know.  If you want to live longer, reduce your risk of disease, as well as depression, accumulating research says coffee is a beverage to be celebrated and enjoyed!  Cheers to that!

Coffee Contains Valuable Plant Compounds

Coffee beans contains a complex mix of valuable, biologically active, plant compounds.  Researchers recently identified 115 different substances that are created or produced when you drink coffee, that are involved in various, chemical pathways in your body.  Some of the most valuable plant compounds found in coffee (chlorogenic acids and diterpenes) demonstrate significant health-promoting, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

Drink Coffee, Live Longer

Did you know coffee can extend your life?  Multiple studies have found this to be true.  In a ten year study, involving more than 22,500 men and women from Spain, consuming at least four cups of coffee daily was linked to a 64% lower risk of death, compared to those who never or almost never consumed coffee.  The benefits were especially strong in those aged 45 years and older.

In the EPIC study, involving over 520,000 men and women from 10 European countries, not only was higher coffee consumption (3 or more cups, caffeinated or decaf) associated with a lower the risk of death, the results were consistent from country to country.

Finally, in two extremely comprehensive, umbrella reviews of coffee and health, in which hundreds of studies were reviewed, coffee drinking was linked not only to a reduced risk of dying, but also to a lower risk of many diseases, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and many types of cancer (breast, colon, endometrial, liver, prostate, and skin cancer).  The greatest benefits were seen at intakes of three to five cups daily.

Drink Coffee, Love Your Liver

Some of the strongest and most impressive research on coffee relates to liver health.  Most people undervalue and even disrespect this vital organ that performs over 500 functions in the body, including the inspection and processing of absolutely everything you eat and drink.  While excess sugar and alcohol cause damage to the liver, it appears that coffee is a beverage your liver loves!  All aspects of liver health are enhanced in regular coffee drinkers, including a significantly lower risk of, fibrosis (scarring of the liver), cirrhosis (severe scarring, which can lead to liver failure), fatty liver (fat build-up in the liver), and liver cancer.














Drink Coffee, Get Happy

Does drinking coffee make you a happier person?  In a review of 12 studies, involving over 340,000 men and women, researchers found that drinking about 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily was linked to a significantly lower risk of depression.  Both the plant compounds found in coffee, as well as the caffeine itself, are thought to play a role.  They do this, in part, by increasing the release of dopamine and serotonin in the body (neurotransmitters or chemical messengers involved in happiness and well-being), as well as by decreasing inflammation in the brain.  Harvard researchers also link regular, coffee drinking (about 2 to 4 cups daily) to a lower risk of suicide.

Drink Coffee, But Hold The Sugar!

Based on research from the University of Illinois, about 70% of people drink their coffee with add-ins, like cream and/or sugar.  These add-in ingredients significantly increase daily caloric intake and diminish coffee’s health benefits.  Coffee, for example, is a major contributor to sugar intake in adults.  A high intake of sugar is linked to a significantly higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and more.  I recommend drinking your coffee black or with just milk.  Low-fat or non-fat lattes or cappuccinos (no sugar added) are also good options.

If you’re having trouble cutting the sugar from your coffee, mindfulness may be the key, according to research from the University of Minnesota.  Study participants who took time to slowly, and deliberately, drink their coffee, while noticing such things as the warmth of the cup in their hands, the coffee aroma, and the various sensations and feelings they experienced with each sip, found they still enjoyed their coffee, even after cutting out the sugar.  Finally, if you wonder about the use of alternative sweeteners or sugar substitutes in your coffee, based on a recent, comprehensive review of 372 studies, researchers concluded that there are still numerous research gaps in our understanding of how these products impact our health.  While it’s probably safe to use many of these products in small amounts, I believe the wisest decision is to avoid using them at all.

Caffeinated Coffee Is Okay, Within Limits

While drinking decaf coffee is an option, it appears that caffeine contributes to coffee’s health’s benefits, although to what extent is still being determined.  Caffeine, in moderation, can also benefit mental alertness, reaction time, and sports performance.  Staying within recommended limits, however, is important.  Too much caffeine can cause insomnia, anxiousness, and increase the risk of cardiac arrhythmia (irregular or chaotic beating of the heart).  Most health organizations recommend consuming no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily, which is about 3 to 4 cups of coffee (200 mg or less during pregnancy).  Children should have no more than 2.5mg/kg of body weight per day and adolescents (12 to 18 years old) should have no more than 100 mg/day.  A standard cup of coffee contains between about 95 and 165 mg of caffeine.  A single shot of espresso contains between about 45 and 65 mg of caffeine.















Lessons Learned:

Drinking about two to five cups of coffee daily (including a caffeine limit of 400 mg) appears to provide significant health protection.  This includes a lower risk of disease, a longer life, less depression, and a healthier liver.  Enjoy your coffee!

P.S.  Please share this article with all your coffee loving friends!!!




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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for peanut butter sandwiches and an undying love for chocolate. I’ve been researching, writing, and speaking about eating for optimal health for over 25 years. I have two wonderful daughters, love hiking year-round, and playing hockey in the winter. Perhaps, most importantly, I never let a good dance song go to waste!

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