Is Your Favorite Morning Pick-Me-Up the Fountain of Youth?
Some consider drinking coffee to be a vice – a potentially harmful habit that health-conscious people should try to break. However, recent scientific studies have found that not only is drinking coffee not harmful, but it may also offer some pretty attractive benefits.
So why has conventional wisdom maligned coffee for so long? Well, it’s true that caffeine can cause temporary spikes in blood pressure, and that high blood pressure is a risk factor for several potentially fatal cardiovascular conditions.
However, drinking coffee isn’t a risk factor for chronic hypertension – it only raises your blood pressure for a few hours, and that’s only if you rarely drink it.
For regular coffee drinkers, it doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on blood pressure, and any effect it does have is likely harmless.
It’s also possible that because coffee drinkers have historically been more prone to other vices such as smoking, drinking, and eating red meat, coffee’s beneficial health effects have been difficult to detect among the statistical noise generated by coffee drinkers’ other habits.
What Can Coffee Do for Your Health?
According to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s medical journal Circulation, drinking coffee actually reduces mortality rates.
Harvard School of Public Health’s Frank Hu, et al, found a significant negative correlation between regular coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, and even suicide. When the study limited the sample group to non-smokers, the relationship between coffee and longevity was even more striking.
Those who drank .5 – 3 cups of coffee per day had a 6-8% lower risk of dying than non coffee-drinkers. The benefits for those who consumed 3-5 cups of coffee per day were even better – they were found to have a 15% lower mortality rate than those who abstained.
With a 12% reduction in mortality rates, It seems as though the health benefits drop off slightly for those who drink more than 5 cups per day, but as you can see, they’re still better off than those who drink no coffee at all.
Is the Caffeine in Coffee a Wonder Drug?
If you ask any coffee lover, the answer may be a resounding “yes!” But it turns out that decaffeinated coffee drinkers get the same benefits, hinting that coffee’s benefits may be related to some of coffee’s other constituents – plant lignans, or antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid.
Hold the Sugar!
The study examined the effects of black coffee, with none of the extras that many coffee lovers cherish. If you want to maximize the health benefits of your morning cup, stay away from sugary specialty drinks. A splash of milk is fine, but when it comes to whipped cream and heavy syrups, moderation is a virtue.
Drink Coffee to Your Health
If you’ve been concerned about the health effects of your coffee habit, you can rest easy. Your favorite morning ritual is actually good for you. Who knew?
[Photos Via: SleuthJournal; Wikihow]