Is coffee good for the body?

It is estimated that around 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed per day worldwide. People tend to drink coffee as a mood booster and to increase energy.

Caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream, such that these stimulating effects have a quick onset instant. Many people drink coffee socially, in the morning, and especially among working individuals.

In the past, research has been focused on coffee being detrimental to health and has been associated with coffee drinkers with having many heart problems and cancer.  

Coffee

Image Credit: portumen/Shutterstock.com

How does coffee benefit health?

Moderate coffee consumption has been associated with decreased risks of many diseases and decreased overall mortality. There are conflicting study results regarding the mortality impact of high coffee consumption, with some studies indicating a higher risk for those who consume 4 or more cups per day.

It is unclear whether caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee produces the same effects, or if the caffeine is the cause of these health benefits. Similarly, filtered and unfiltered coffee could affect the benefits. Some studies do not find any difference; however, others focus on the benefits of filtered coffee.

What in coffee produces health benefits?

Coffee contents can vary, and it has yet to be recognized which ingredient in coffee can provide these health benefits.

Most people would assume as caffeine is the main ingredient that this is the leading cause for the health benefits.

However, studies have suggested both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have a significant impact on health. Some useful nutrients in coffee aside from caffeine are:

  • riboflavin niacin,
  • magnesium,
  • potassium,
  • various phenolic compounds
  • antioxidants.

Previous research on the negative impacts of coffee consumption

Coffee has, in the past, been portrayed in a negative light; research focused on heart conditions being more common in coffee drinkers.

There was little to no consideration of coffee drinkers being more active and how smoking influenced risk (coffee drinking is more common among smokers). However, in recent research, all factors have been considered.

Recent studies on coffee and disease

Parkinson disease

According to research in 2012, the caffeine that is prominent in coffee is seen to help control movement in people living with Parkinson's disease. A meta-analysis in 2017 found that there was a link between the amount of coffee consumed and the lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease. The findings realized that the results were the same in both non-smokers and smokers.

However, it can be argued there was not enough evidence in finding the decaffeinated coffee had the same effect.

Liver cancer

2019 studies have found that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of developing liver cancer. A meta-analysis from 2017 noted that all types of coffee reduced the risk of liver cancer and gallstone disease.

Type 2 diabetes

2017 research noticed that type 2 diabetes occurred less frequently in persons who drink coffee. The study found that four to six cups of either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee each day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A similar study in 2014 had a control group of over 48,000 people, some were to increase their intake of coffee by one cup per day, and half did not.

The study was carried out over four years and noticed that the study group was 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who did not increase their coffee intake.

Breast Cancer

A study in Sweden in 2011 researched a group of post-menopausal women. They found that when they were to drink five or more cups of coffee per day, the risk of them developing a certain type of breast cancer was moderately lower compared to the beginning of the study.

Groups of people who would benefit from coffee consumption

2020 research has noticed that young males benefit most from coffee consumption. In particular, a healthy, young working male who consumes a limited amount of coffee in social situations is less likely to develop health problems and overall be healthier.

This positive outlook on coffee intake has to be approached with concern. Consuming coffee in high quantities will negate these health benefits. On average, it has been noticed that the consumption of no more than five cups a day has the most health benefits.

Gaps in research

Although the evidence for the benefits of coffee consumption is reproducible and extensive, there are still some concerns with consuming coffee.

Coffee does not consist of only caffeine; therefore, it is difficult to determine the leading cause of health benefits. Considering how a cup of coffee can be a benefit to health does not review each component of coffee, haven’t been studied individually.

Also, how each person consumes coffee differs between person to person. The benefits of drinking coffee decrease drastically depending on how the coffee is consumed.

If the coffee includes sugar, cream, or additional flavorings, the benefits are likely negated because of the increased health risks imposed by high-sugar and high-fat diets.

A daily figure of three to five cups of coffee each day is recommended for a healthy balance. However, exceeding this amount may increase the risk factors and not have health benefits.

Sources

  • Eu.usatoday.com. Available at: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/2019/08/24/health-benefits-coffee-how-much-drink-and-there-risks/1639899001/ (Accessed: 10 February 2020).
  • Li, J., Seibold, P., Chang-Claude, J., Flesch-Janys, D., Liu, J., Czene, K., Humphreys, K. and Hall, P., 2011. Coffee consumption modifies the risk of estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research, 13(3), p.R49.
  • Nohara-Shitama, Y. et al. (2019) "Habitual coffee intake reduces all-cause mortality by decreasing heart rate", Heart and Vessels, 34(11), pp. 1823-1829. doi: 10.1007/s00380-019-01422-0.
  • S, I. (2020) Coffee Drinking and Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer: Update on Epidemiological Findings and Potential Mechanisms. - PubMed - NCBI , Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30977056
  • Sado, J., Kitamura, T., Kitamura, Y., Liu, R., Ando, E., Sobue, T., Sugawara, Y., Matsuo, K., Nakayama, T., Tsuji, I. and Ito, H., 2019. Coffee Consumption and All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality―Three-Prefecture Cohort in Japan―. Circulation Journal, 83(4), pp.757-766.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Francesca Burton, B.Sc.

Written by

Francesca Burton, B.Sc.

Francesca majored in Psycholinguistics, focusing on the science behind language learning and production. She holds a Bachelor's of Science (B.Sc.) in Linguistics and the English language from Bangor University, UK. She enjoys writing about the recovery and development of language, as well as other areas of medicine.

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