(DGIwire) – Both the benefits and adverse health effects of coffee consumption have been the subject of study in recent years. Coffee has a long history of being blamed for many ills from stunting your growth to claims that it causes heart disease and cancer.
But the latest run of studies has indicated that in moderation and without much added cream or sugar, coffee may not be so bad after all. So is it good or bad? It seems that for most people the health benefits outweigh the risks.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has reversed its previous warning of deeming coffee a possible carcinogen, due to a lack of evidence.
So at least this morning, enjoy that cup of Joe guilt-free.
Late last year a study by Harvard researchers concluded that moderate coffee drinking reduces mortality rates from a wide variety of diseases. They tracked over 200,000 people from three ongoing studies, including two of the Nurses’ Health Studies.
Coffee drinking was assessed every four years for a 30-year period and those who drank between three and five cups of coffee per day had reduced death risks from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, and even suicide. It also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. They found that cancer was not related to coffee drinking.
There are some bioactive compounds in coffee that reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation that could be responsible for the findings.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture there is evidence showing that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (three to five cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with any increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals.
“Some caution is still advised. High consumption of unfiltered coffee has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels and some studies found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people who have a specific and fairly common genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body. This means that how quickly you metabolize caffeine may affect your health risk. Also, health benefits may not hold true in people who drink large amounts of coffee, according to Tom Griesel, co-author of TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust.
Although coffee may have fewer risks compared with benefits, keep in mind that there are other beverages that contain nutrients that coffee does not. Also, adding cream and sugar to your coffee adds fat and calories with some coffee drinks containing more than 500 calories.
Griesel adds, “Surprisingly, coffee is the main source of antioxidants for many Americans. A few cups are generally fine. After that however, there are many better beverage choices, with plain water at the top of the list.”