Coffee is one of the most popular hot drinks in the world, and many people start the day with a cup, or punctuate the day with coffee breaks. But is it good for you?
Current research suggests that drinking coffee can be both beneficial and detrimental to health.
Coffee is a rich source of flavonoids, plant antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory antiviral and anti-coagulant (blood thinning) benefits, and is linked with a reduced risk of a number of diseases. The potential benefits include protecting against type 2 diabetes (1), Alzheimers (2), Parkinson’s disease(3) & liver disease (4).
However coffee contains a stimulant, caffeine, and it is this stimulant that can also cause problems such as anxiety (5), irritability and headaches in some people, and is thought to disrupt sleep (6). Furthermore studies have shown that coffee drinking may reduce fertility (7), increase the risk of miscarriage (8), and, because it is a diuretic, it is associated with increasing blood pressure (9).
For maximum health benefits, drink coffee black. Adding milk detracts from the antioxidant benefits as the protein in milk binds to coffee’s flavonoids. Avoid adding sugar, syrups or chemical laden creamers too.
If you have made the switch to decaffeinated coffee be aware that decaffeinated does not mean caffeine free, although it does contain significantly less caffeine than the regular varieties. Many coffees are decaffeinated using a process that involves extracting the caffeine with a chemical solvent. However, some coffee is decaffeinated using a more natural, chemical free approach called the Swiss water process which is chemical free.
For most people who are in good health and enjoy a cup of coffee, the benefits of coffee probably outweigh the risks. In my opinion, if you don’t drink coffee at the moment then the evidence isn’t strong enough to suggest you start. And if you are trying for a baby, are pregnant, have high blood pressure or you are an insomniac it is probably best avoided.
I would recommend sticking to one or two cups of regular and drinking herbal or green teas for the rest of the day. If you chose to drink decaffeinated then opt for the Swiss water method.
- Bhupathiraju S, Pan A, Manson J, Willett W, van Dam R, Hu F (2014) Changes in coffee intake and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes: three large cohorts of US men and women. Diabetologia, online April 24, 2014, DOI 10.1007/s00125-014-3235-7.
- Maia L, De Mendonca A (2002) Does caffeine intake protect from Alzheimer’s disease? European Journal of Neurology, 9:377-382.
- Hernan M, Takkouche B, Caamano-Isorna F, Gestal-Otero J (2002) A meta-analysis of coffee drinking, cigarette smoking, and the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Annals of Neurology, 52: 276-284.
- Boon-Bee Goh G, Chow W, Wang R, Yuan J, Koh W (2014) Coffee, alcohol and other beverages in relation to cirrhosis mortality: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. Hepatology, 60: 661-669.
- Winston A, Hardwick E, Jaberi N (2005) Neuropsychiatric effects of caffeine. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11:432-439.
- Snel J, Lorist M (2011) Effects of caffeine on sleep and cognition. Progress in Brain Research, 190: 105-117.
- Wilcox (1989) Caffeinated beverages and reduced fertility. The Lancet, 1: 840.
- Gianelli M, Doyle P, Roman E, Pelerin M, Hermon C (2003) The effect of caffeine consumption and nausea on the risk of miscarriage. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, 17:1-30.
- Ha Jee S, He J, WHelton P, Suh I, Klag M (1999) The Effect of Chronic Coffee Drinking on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Controlled Clinical Trials. Hypertension, 33:647-652.