Coffee has become one of the most internationally popular beverages, and has become many people’s drink of choice when looking to increase productivity, due to its awakening effects, but also because of its taste and aroma. It’s composed of mainly water, but also many other compound molecules that give it its signature colour, flavour, aroma, and health benefits, such as caffeine, chlorogenic acids (antioxydants), phytochemicals (click here to find out what those are), ethylphenol (aroma), but also certain vitamins like vitamin B3 (niacin).
Coffee has gone from villain to hero due to specific scientific research advances about coffee and caffeine. The general consensus is that drinking moderate amounts of coffee has proven health benefits, but excessive coffee drinkers will experience many other downsides in regards to health. Anything in excess can be harmful to the human body.
Here are some information I gathered when compiling recently published research papers about coffee (all references will be cited at the bottom of the page):
1. Coffee has antidiabetic/hyperglycemia lowering properties
According to a study conducted among mice, consuming moderate amounts of coffee reduces risk of type II diabetes because of Cafestol, a bioactive molecule that increases your body’s efficiency to secrete insulin and glucose metabolism (aka getting rid of blood glucose by directing it to the muscles to be used.)
The Cafestol molecule by itself has the potential to be used as an anti-diabetic treatment one day.
2. Caffeine can have positive effects on the heart and cardiovascular health
One study suggests that moderate amounts of caffeine consumption has no relation to total cardiovascular diseases, and even a reduces risk of total cardiovascular disease in individuals who are in reasonable health. Other studies show it may increase heart rate, but the results are inconsistent and vary from one individual to another.
However, people who have or are more prone to high blood pressure (it can sometimes be transmitted genetically) may experience high blood pressure during coffee consumption, and are therefore considered more sensitive to the effects of caffeine. However, changes in blood pressure remain acute and short-term, which normalizes later. But for these individuals, this change of blood pressure is observed from all sources of caffeine, not just coffee.
3. People who consume moderate amounts of coffee have a decreased chance of mortality from all-sites cancer as compared to those who don’t consume coffee
Here’s the thing about this study: they aren’t really sure if it’s because of the coffee, or if it’s just a coincidence. More research needs to be done to prove the effects of coffee on cancer. This is weird, because it is a bit contradictory in my mind that coffee could potentially decrease the chance of developing cancer, considering all I’ve heard is that coffee may contain oxidizing components that lead to developing cancer. That’s the fascinating thing about science and nutrition, it’s ever-changing!
4. Coffee has positive effects on your liver
Liver fibrosis and cirrhosis are the leading liver diseases in those with liver failure or malfunction, and is due mainly to an unhealthy lifestyle, constituted by the Western diet composed of foods that are very high in fat and sugar, and very low in essential nutrients. This type of diet causes an accumulation of fat in the liver, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (or NAFLD), usually caused by, you guessed it, alcohol.
Although the exact mechanism is unknown, studies show drinking moderate amounts of coffee & tea may protect your liver against NAFLD. The study shows suggests that increased coffee consumption in the population has decreased mortality due to NAFLD. Again, further research needs to be done in order to discover exactly how coffee affects the liver, but this is quite the advancement, I think!
Do I think these studies mean we should drink noting but coffee and caffeinated drinks? Absolutely not. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that my favourite motto when it comes to nutrition is ”everything in moderation”. It’s great that coffee has some health benefits, but studies also show that an excess of coffee can really affect your body negatively. So, I repeat, everything in moderation!
I am always up for a discussion, so leave a comment if the topic interests you.
Happy Friday, y’all!!
- Di Justo, P. (2015) Here’s everything that’s hiding in your cup of coffee. http://www.businessinsider.com/chemicals-in-coffee-2015-3
- Mellbye, F. et al (2017). Cafestol, a Bioactive Substance in Coffee, Has Antidiabetic Properties in KKAy Mice. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b00395?journalCode=jnprdf
- Turnbull, D. et al (2017). Caffein and cardiovascular health. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273230017302210?via%3Dihub
- Sado, J. et al (2017). Association of coffee consumption with all-sites cancer incidence and mortality. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cas.13328/abstract
- Elsevier (2017). Take a coffe or tea break to protect your liver. https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/take-a-coffee-or-tea-break-to-protect-your-liver