Is coffee good for you?
Most of us will have seen the research this week that store-bought coffees can contain a whopping 25 spoonfuls of sugar. Obviously that amount of sugar is not going to boost your but if you take the syrup out, is coffee good for you?
For those who missed the report, it was done by Action on Sugar, the pressure group trying to get the government to reduce the amount of sugar in our food.
It’s easy to say they have a vested interest in showing the drinks to have a lot of sugar, but it’s still obviously shocking to find that some coffee shop coffees have more sugar than three cans of Coke – and I’ve discussed the dangers of too much sugar in the past.
It wasn’t a week full of bad news for coffee drinkers though. Although it gained fewer headlines, another coffee-related report made the papers on Friday. It showed drinking two cups of coffee a day can help reduce the health risks associated with drinking too much alcohol (1)
It looked at nine previous studies with more than 430,000 participants and revealed that risk was reduced by 22 per cent with one cup of coffee and 43 per cent with two cups, compared to drinking no coffee at all.
Obviously drinking coffee to alleviate the symptoms of a bad lifestyle seems rather counterproductive, not going in for the alcohol abuse in the first place would seem a better option.
The benefits of moderate coffee consumption stretch further than helping those with alcohol-induced liver disease though. Coffee is now recognised as a good source of antioxidants (2,3) – the chemicals that can help slow down ageing and prevent certain diseases.
Recent studies have shown that it can help with conditions such as skin cancer, cataracts and bone health (4–6). One even suggests moderate consumption is not a risk factor for high blood pressure (7), while another showed it can be beneficial for those involved in resistance (weight) training (8).
If you’re rushing to the Nespresso machine as you read, you might want to hold on. Coffee remains a diuretic, meaning it makes you go to the toilet more affecting your hydration levels.
Another study has linked high levels of consumption with gastric cancer (9) while it can be a predictor of future cardiovascular events (read strokes and heart attacks) in younger people who are already suffering from high blood pressure (10).
It also stimulates the adrenal glands and is thought to increase the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body (11) which can link to increased agitation.
If you’re thinking by now that even the scientists can’t agree whether it is good for you or not, you’re probably right.
If you do drink coffee, follow these tips
- Drink in moderation, no more than three cups per day,
- Drink the best quality of coffee you can afford,
- Avoid over-processed coffees such as instant where possible,
- Drink the freshest ground coffee you can with beans from a sustainable, free-trade source,
- Reduce sugar in coffee over time to none,
- Don’t add sugary syrups, whipped creams etc to coffee shop coffee,
- Increase your water consumption with coffee. In the Mediterranean, it is almost exclusively served with a glass of water on the side, you should follow suit,
- Reduce your coffee intake if you suffer from high blood pressure.
- Kennedy OJ, Roderick P, Buchanan R, Fallowfield JA, Hayes PC, Parkes J. Systematic review with meta-analysis: coffee consumption and the risk of cirrhosis. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Jan 25;43(5):562–74.
- Troup GJ, Navarini L, Suggi Liverani F, Drew SC. Stable radical content and anti-radical activity of roasted Arabica coffee: from in-tact bean to coffee brew. PLoS One. Public Library of Science; 2015 Jan 9;10(4):e0122834.
- Agudelo-Ochoa GM, Pulgarín-Zapata IC, Velásquez-Rodriguez CM, Duque-Ramírez M, Naranjo-Cano M, Quintero-Ortiz MM, et al. Coffee Consumption Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of Plasma and Has No Effect on the Lipid Profile or Vascular Function in Healthy Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Nutr. 2016 Feb 3;
- Liu J, Shen B, Shi M, Cai J. Higher Caffeinated Coffee Intake Is Associated with Reduced Malignant Melanoma Risk: A Meta-Analysis Study. PLoS One. 2016 Jan;11(1):e0147056.
- Varma SD. Effect of coffee (caffeine) against human cataract blindness. Clin Ophthalmol. 2016 Jan;10:213–20.
- Choi E, Choi K-H, Park SM, Shin D, Joh H-K, Cho E. The Benefit of Bone Health by Drinking Coffee among Korean Postmenopausal Women: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Fourth & Fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. PLoS One. 2016 Jan;11(1):e0147762.
- Rhee JJ, Qin F, Hedlin HK, Chang TI, Bird CE, Zaslavsky O, et al. Coffee and caffeine consumption and the risk of hypertension in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec 9;103(1):210–7.
- Richardson DL, Clarke ND. Effect Of Coffee And Caffeine Ingestion On Resistance Exercise Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Feb 12;
- Deng W, Yang H, Wang J, Cai J, Bai Z, Song J, et al. Coffee consumption and the risk of incident gastric cancer-A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Nutr Cancer. 2016 Jan;68(1):40–7.
- Mos L, Fania C, Benetti E, Bratti P, Maraglino G, Mazzer A, et al. 1C.04: COFFEE CONSUMPTION IS A PREDICTOR OF CARDIOVASCULAR EVENTS IN YOUNG AND MIDDLE AGED HYPERTENSIVE SUBJECTS. J Hypertens. 2015 Jun;33 Suppl 1:e10.
- Gavrieli A, Yannakoulia M, Fragopoulou E, Margaritopoulos D, Chamberland JP, Kaisari P, et al. Caffeinated coffee does not acutely affect energy intake, appetite, or inflammation but prevents serum cortisol concentrations from falling in healthy men. J Nutr. 2011 Apr 1;141(4):703–7.