Espresso and Coffee Health Benefits: Scientific Research
(click on any to find out more):
- Coffee drinking, including decaf, has been repeatedly found linked to lower mortality
- Coffee has been discovered to contain nutrients and antioxidants against inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease
- Meta-analyses of studies have found that coffee helps in successful weight loss maintenance & reduces risk of diabetes
- Coffee drinking in moderation is healthier for weight control than soda drinks, diet drinks and not-homemade fruit juices
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Coffee drinking, including decaf, has been repeatedly found linked to lower mortality
“Coffee drinking was associated with reduced risk for death from various causes. This relationship did not vary by country.”: this is the conclusion of a scientific research on coffee drinking and mortality in 10 European countries, published in July 2017 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine (all references are at the end of this article).
Still in July 2017 the Annals of Internal Medicine also published another paper in which the authors start from the premise that coffee consumption has been associated with reduced risk for death in previous studies. Since the latter were mostly concerning white people, this study, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, tried to remedy that by looking at nonwhites and found similar results: an association between higher consumption of coffee and lower risk for death in African Americans, Japanese Americans and Latinos, as well as whites.
These are not the only studies. In fact, there’s a body of evidence pointing to the beneficial effects of coffee on health. Always provided, of course, as with every substance, food and drink, that it’s not taken in excessive amount. Paracelsus, who founded the science of medical chemistry, said that everything is poisonous, it only depends on the dose, a sentence also put as “the dose makes the poison” or its opposite, the non-poison, as the case may be. In addition, pregnant or nursing women should reduce or avoid caffeine, but can still get the health benefits of coffee through decaf. The best for health is to drink coffee with little or no sugar, of course.
The link with lower mortality has been repeatedly found in both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, leading to the hypothesis that this association is due not, or not only, to caffeine. In diabetes too, it is believed that other compounds in coffee, apart from caffeine, help against diabetes.
Coffee has been discovered to contain nutrients and antioxidants against inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease
The mechanism of coffee’s beneficial effects are also well understood: in recent years coffee has been discovered to contain several nutrients, including antioxidants like flavonoids and other polyphenols, that are active against inflammation (a major root cause of many chronic and fatal illnesses), inhibit carcinogenicity (the development of cancer), cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and protect against Parkinson’s Disease.
This may look surprising as in the past coffee didn’t have such a good reputaton, but the reason for that, according to the Mayo Clinic, seems to be that previous research was marred by confounding factors, for example the habits not conducive to good health of some groups, like smokers or sedentary people (aka couch potatoes), who also drank much coffee. The consequences of the two groups of variables had not been effectively separated in the interpretation of studies’ results.
For a long time the presence of polyphenols had been found in coffee in vitro, namely through chemical analysis, but there was skepticism about the possibility to reach corresponding beneficial health effects in vivo, ie on human populations. The problem was believed to lie in the bioavailability of these precious compounds, meaning that, though they were in the coffee that people drank, the coffee drinkers’ bodies might not be able to metabolise and use them.
However, in more recent years the number of studies on human beings have multiplied and have generally confirmed the health benefits that the in vitro studies seemed to promise, so much so that there is an ongoing exploration to employ coffee’s beneficial substances for drugs to be used in the prevention of cancer and other diseases (specific flavonoids are chemo-preventive and cytotoxic against various cancers), and even as an effective alternative to chemotherapeutic drugs in the treatment of certain cancers, like colon cancer.
Meta-analyses of studies have found that coffee helps in successful weight loss maintenance & reduces risk of diabetes
In particular, many meta-analyses have been conducted, which scrutinise numerous different studies, selecting only the best-designed, longer-term ones, those involving a higher number of subjects and demonstrating a sound methodology. While the results of a single study cannot inspire immediate, excessive confidence, a statistical review of many selected studies can.
These have shown that coffee consumption may decrease the risk of prostate cancer; caffeine intake is related to successful weight loss maintenance; coffee and caffeine intake might significantly reduce the incidence of T2DM (Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus); both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with reduced diabetes risk; irrespective of the caffeine content, SSB (sugar-sweetened beverages) intake was associated with a higher risk of T2D ((Type 2 Diabetes), and coffee intake was associated with a lower risk of T2D; coffee and intake of caffeine might significantly reduce the incidence of EC (endometrial cancer); coffee consumption may reduce the risk of cutaneous melanoma.
Coffee drinking in moderation is healthier for weight control than soda drinks, diet drinks and not-homemade fruit juices
It’s a good idea to replace soft drinks, albeit keeping in mind that the highest recommended does of coffee per day is 3-4 cups, no more.
Soda drinks, including the diet versions and those sweetened by sugar substitutes, and even not-homemade fruit juices are not recommended by many physicians to diabetics and to people who try to lose weight. Not only sugar but also its replacements are not good for you, and fruit juices, due to their nutrient density, concentrate a great amount of the sugar occurring in fruits, fructose.
A 2013 report in Obesity Reviews, official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, titled: “Resolved: there is sufficient scientific evidence that decreasing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.”
And in July 2017 the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a systematic review and meta-analysis that concluded: “Evidence from RCTs (randomized controlled trials) [which are the gold standard of testing] does not clearly support the intended benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners for weight management, and observational data suggest that routine intake of nonnutritive sweeteners may be associated with increased BMI (Body Mass Index) and cardiometabolic risk. Further research is needed to fully characterize the long-term risks and benefits of nonnutritive sweeteners. ”