Coffee - good or bad?

Good or bad coffee

The effects on the health of coffee are controversial.

Despite what I have heard, there are many good things to say about coffee.

It has a high antioxidant content and is related to a reduced risk of many diseases.

However, it also contains caffeine, a stimulant that can cause problems in some people and interrupt sleep.

This article analyzes in detail coffee and its effects on health, analyzing both positive and negative aspects.

Coffee contains some essential nutrients and is extremely high in antioxidants

Coffee is rich in many of the nutrients that are naturally found in coffee beans.

A typical cup of coffee of 8 ounces (240 ml) contains (1):

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 11% of the DV

  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 6% of the DV

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 2% of the DV

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): 2% of the DV

  • Folate 1% of the DV

  • Manganese: 3% of the DV

  • Potassium: 3% of the DV

  • Magnesium: 2% of the DV

  • Match: 1% of the DV

It may not look like much, but try multiplying it by the number of cups you drink per day, since you can add a significant portion of your daily nutrient intake.

But coffee really shines in its high content of antioxidants.

In fact, the typical Western diet provides more antioxidants in coffee than in fruits and vegetables combined (2, 3).

Summary Coffee contains a small amount of some vitamins and minerals, which accumulate if you drink many cups a day. It is also high in antioxidants.

Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that can improve brain function and stimulate metabolism

Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world (4).

Soft drinks, tea and chocolate contain caffeine, but coffee is the main source.

The caffeine content of a cup can vary from 30 to 300 mg, but the average cup is around 90 to 100 mg.

Caffeine is a known stimulant. In your brain, it blocks the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called adenosine.

By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases activity in your brain and releases other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. This reduces fatigue and makes you feel more alert (5, 6).

Numerous studies show that caffeine can lead to a short-term increase in brain function, improving mood, reaction time, surveillance and general cognitive function (7, 8).

Caffeine can also increase metabolism by 3-11% and exercise performance by 11-12%, on average (9, 10, 11, 12).

However, some of these effects are probably short-term. If you drink coffee every day, you will accumulate tolerance and, with it, the effects will be less powerful (13).

Summary The main active compound in coffee is caffeine stimulant. It can cause a short-term increase in energy levels, brain function, metabolic rate and exercise performance.

Coffee can protect your brain from Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's

Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and one of the main causes of dementia.

Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to 65% less risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (14, 15, 16).

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease and is caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain.

Coffee drinkers have a 32-60% lower risk of Parkinson's disease. The more coffee is drunk, the lower the risk (17, 18, 19, 20).

Summary Several studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease in old age.

Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels due to resistance to the effects of insulin.

This common disease has multiplied tenfold in some decades and now affects more than 300 million people.

Interestingly, studies show that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of developing this condition from 23 to 67% (21, 22, 23, 24).

A review of 18 studies in 457,922 people associated each cup of coffee with a 7% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (25).

Summary Numerous studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of liver disease

Your liver is an incredibly important organ that has hundreds of different functions in your body.

It is sensitive to excess alcohol and to the intake of fructose.

The final stage of liver damage is called cirrhosis and it means that most of your liver becomes scar tissue.

Coffee drinkers have up to 84% less risk of developing cirrhosis, with the strongest effect for those who drink 4 or more cups per day (26, 27, 28).

Liver cancer is also common. It is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Coffee drinkers have up to 40% less risk of liver cancer (29, 30).

Summary Coffee drinkers have a significantly lower risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The more coffee you drink, the lower your risk.

Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of depression and suicide

Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world and leads to a significantly reduced quality of life.

In a 2011 Harvard study, people who drank more coffee had a 20% lower risk of depression (31).

In a review of three studies, people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide (32).

Summary Studies show that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of becoming depressed and are significantly less likely to commit suicide.

Some studies show that coffee drinkers live longer

Since coffee drinkers have a lower risk of many common and life-threatening illnesses, in addition to suicide, coffee could help you live longer.

Long-term research in 402,260 individuals aged 50 to 71 years found that coffee drinkers had a much lower risk of dying during the study period of 12 to 13 years (33):

The sweet spot seems to be 4 to 5 cups per day, with men and women having a risk of death of 12% and 16%, respectively.

Summary Some studies show that, on average, coffee drinkers live longer than those who do not drink coffee. The strongest effect is seen in 4-5 cups per day.

Caffeine can cause anxiety and disturb sleep

It would not be right to speak only of the good without mentioning the bad.

The truth is that there are also some negative aspects of coffee, although this depends on the individual.

Excessive caffeine consumption can cause nervousness, anxiety, heart palpitations and even exacerbated panic attacks (34).

If you are sensitive to caffeine and tend to overstimulate, you may want to avoid coffee altogether.

Another unwanted side effect is that it can interrupt sleep (35).

If coffee reduces the quality of sleep, try to leave the coffee at the end of the day, such as after 2:00 p.m.

Caffeine can also have diuretic and increased blood pressure effects, although these usually dissipate with regular use. However, a slight increase in blood pressure of 1 to 2 mm / Hg may persist (36, 37, 38).

Summary Caffeine can have several negative effects, such as anxiety and interrupted sleep, but this depends largely on the individual.

Caffeine is addictive and missing some glasses can lead to withdrawal

Another problem with caffeine is that it can lead to addiction.

When people consume caffeine regularly, they become tolerant of it. Either it stops working as it did, or a larger dose is needed to produce the same effects (39).

When people abstain from caffeine, they have withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, exhaustion, brain fog and irritability. This may last a few days (40, 41).

Tolerance and abstinence are the characteristics of physical addiction.

Summary Caffeine is an addictive substance. It can cause tolerance and well-documented withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue and irritability.

The difference between regular and decaffeinated

Some people opt for decaffeinated coffee instead of regular.

Decaffeinated coffee is usually made by rinsing the coffee beans with chemical solvents.

Each time the beans are rinsed, a percentage of the caffeine dissolves in the solvent. This process is repeated until most of the caffeine has been eliminated.

Keep in mind that even decaffeinated coffee contains some Caffeine, just much less than regular coffee.

Summary Decaffeinated coffee is made by extracting caffeine from coffee beans with solvents. Decaf does not have all the same health benefits as regular coffee.

How to maximize health benefits

There are some things you can do to maximize the beneficial health effects of coffee.

The most important thing is not to add a lot of sugar.

Another technique is to prepare coffee with a paper filter. Unfiltered coffee, like that of a Turkish or French press, contains cafestol, a substance that can increase cholesterol levels (42, 43).

Keep in mind that some coffee drinks in cafes and franchises contain hundreds of calories and a lot of sugar. These drinks are not healthy if consumed regularly.

Finally, make sure you do not drink excessive amounts of coffee.

Summary It is important not to put too much sugar in the coffee. Brewing with a paper filter can eliminate a cholesterol-raising compound called cafestol.

Should you be drinking coffee?

Some people, especially pregnant women, should definitely avoid or severely limit their coffee consumption.

People with anxiety, high blood pressure or insomnia may also want to reduce their intake for a while to see if it helps.

There is also some evidence that people who metabolize caffeine have an increased risk of heart attacks when drinking coffee (44).

In addition, some people worry that coffee consumption may increase the risk of cancer over time.

While it is true that roasted coffee beans contain acrylamides, a category of carcinogenic compounds, there is no evidence that the small amounts of acrylamides found in coffee cause harm.

In fact, most studies suggest that coffee intake has no effect on cancer risk or can even reduce it (45,46).

That said, coffee can have important beneficial effects for the health of the average person.

If you still do not drink coffee, these benefits are not a convincing reason to start doing it. There are also disadvantages.

But if he already drinks coffee and enjoys it, the benefits seem to far outweigh the negatives.

The bottom line

It is important to keep in mind that many of the studies referred to in this article are observational. They examined the association between coffee consumption and disease outcomes, but did not prove a cause and effect.

However, since the association is solid and consistent between studies, coffee can play a positive role in your health.

Although it was demonized in the past, coffee is probably very healthy for most people, according to scientific evidence.

In any case, coffee belongs to the same category as healthy drinks such as green tea.

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