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Coffee: It’s Potential Benefits and Risks

By Gary F. Zeolla

      Coffee is a commonly consumed beverage in the USA. But there has always been much controversy about it, as to whether it is healthy or unhealthy. This article will look at its potential benefits and its potential risks by looking at a variety of studies on coffee reported in articles on various news websites. I will go through the news articles in alphabetical order by the news outlet then article title. This article is a follow-up to Drink This for That; Don’t Drink This to Avoid That.

 

Axios. Coffee associated with lower mortality risk.

 

      Those who drink coffee — sweetened or not — were less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers in the following seven years, according to a cohort study published Monday [5/30/22] in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

      “This study, as with all the other studies, uses observational data so we have to be cautious because it’s not a clinical trial. We can’t infer cause and effect,” said Christina Wee, who was the editor of the paper and who wrote a corresponding editorial about the study.

      Yes, but: They’re talking about moderate amounts of coffee — between 1.5 and 3.5 cups a day.

    As Wee pointed out, this was based on data that is about 10 years old from the U.K. where the average coffee drinker is using an average of about a teaspoon of sugar — not downing caramel macchiatos.

      The bottom line: This doesn’t offer evidence that one should start a coffee habit for its benefits. But: “If you’re a regular coffee drinker, there’s no need to give it up,” Wee said.

 

      The important points here are we are talking about a moderate amount of coffee, with just a teaspoon of sugar or less. Also, note the mention of it being an observational study based on data that is ten-years-old.

 

Best of Life. 5 Surprising Ways Your Morning Cup of Coffee Boosts Your Health, According to Experts.

 

      Dietician Jordan Hill told USA Today that the recommended caffeine intake is approximately 400 milligrams (mg) per day….

      Since the average cup of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, that means you can still enjoy a cup (or two!) every morning. Read on for five surprising ways it boosts your health….

 

1.       It’s good for your heart….

2.       It helps protect against liver disease….

3.       It lowers your stroke risk….

4.       It’s associated with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease….

5.       It may help you live longer.

 

      Note again we are talking about a moderate amount of coffee. With 95 milligrams per cup and a 400 recommended maximum. That means at max four cups a day. But since other foods and beverages also contain caffeine, such as tea, soda, and chocolate, it might mean less than that.     

      After each of these numbered items, this article then explains how coffee might give these benefits. But no specific studies are cited. It is just observations by various medical personnel or researchers and general references to studies.  

      However, overall, the reason for these possible benefits of coffee is that coffee is made from coffee beans. Beans of all sorts are plant foods, and all plant foods, if relatively unrefined, contain antioxidants. Those antioxidants carry various health benefits to them.

 

Fox News. Drinking 2-3 cups of coffee daily could benefit the heart, studies say.

 

      Drinking two or three cups of coffee every day may benefit the heart, according to studies being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 71st Annual Scientific Session.

      The American College of Cardiology said Thursday [3/24/22] that consumption of the caffeinated beverage is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms, as well as a longer lifespan.

      The trends also remained true for those with and without cardiovascular disease, with researchers saying the analyses assure that coffee is not linked to new or worsening heart disease….

      Overall, the researchers either found no impact or significant reductions in cardiovascular risk after controlling for exercise, alcohol, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure….

      Limitations to the studies include that researchers were unable to control for dietary factors or adjust for any creamers or milk and sugar.

 

      Three studies are cited in this Fox News article, with each finding these benefits with consumption of 1-3 cups of coffee. However, the final paragraph means not all possible confounding factors were accounted for. This is always the difficulty with dietary studies, or any health study for that matter. It is difficult to account for all possible confounding factors. That is why there are often conflicting studies on the same issue.

      But the important point is, this study did not find any increase nor decrease in cardiovascular risk with coffee consumption. It also did not find any problems for those with current cardiovascular disease. But still, I would caution those with such to confer with their cardiologists before consuming any caffeinated beverage.

 

Newsmax. Coffee May Be Dangerous for Some With High Blood Pressure.

 

 

      The study found that for those with blood pressure of 160/100 or higher, drinking two or more cups of coffee daily was associated with a doubled risk of death from heart disease compared to those who don’t drink coffee.

      “We were surprised that heavy coffee consumption was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality among people with severe hypertension, but not in those without hypertension or with grade 1 hypertension,” said study author Dr. Masayuki Teramoto. He is with Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan and the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco.

      “In contrast, green tea consumption was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality across all blood pressure categories,” Teramoto added.

      Why no heart harm with green tea? Researchers said polyphenols — micronutrients with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties — may be what’s responsible for the benefits of green tea….

      The analysis is observational, he cautioned, so cause and effect can’t be definitively proven.

 

      This is an interesting study, in that it directly compared coffee and tea, with only the former being problematic for those with high blood pressure. Coffee also contains beneficial elements, as other studies cited in this article are showing. However, only the beneficial elements in green tea overrode most likely the caffeine, so tea was not detrimental for those with high blood pressure.

      But note that final caveat. As with most of these studies, they are observational studies not clinical trials, so something other than coffee versus tea could be the reason for the difference in the lives of coffee-drinkers versus tea-drinkers.

 

Newsmax. Coffee, Tea Boost Longevity in Adults With Diabetes.

 

      A nearly two-decade-long study linked high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages — soda, lemonade and fruit punch — with premature death in people with type 2 diabetes. The link was found for both heart-related reasons and all causes.

      But other beverages — specifically coffee, tea, low-fat milk and plain water — helped lower the odds of early death….

      Each additional daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage was associated with an 8% uptick in death from all causes for people with type 2 diabetes. Replacing that drink with one of the healthy options lowered risk of early death by 18%.

      The study does not prove that unhealthy drinking habits cause early death, only that there is an association between the two….

      Beverages with artificial sweeteners were found to be less problematic than their sugary counterparts. But they weren’t as good as healthier choices, the study found….

      Fruit juices, with high natural sugar content but also nutrients, fell somewhere in between.

 

      This one is easy to explain. Coffee, tea, water, and milk are all natural beverages, while soda, lemonade, and fruit punch are just flavored sugar water, usually flavored with artificial ingredients. Artificial sweeteners are obviously not natural, while fruit juice is highly processed. As always, real food, or in this case, real beverages rather than highly processed ones are best.

 

Newsmax. Skip the Coffee Before Shopping to Save Money.

 

      Scientists found that people who sip on a complimentary cup of coffee while shopping end up spending 50% more money and buying 30% more items than their non-caffeinated counterparts. Researchers from the University of South Florida (USF) set up an espresso machine at the entrances of a retail chain and home goods store in France, as well as a department store in Spain, according to Study Finds.

      When customers entered the stores, they received a free coffee cup. Half of those shoppers ordered coffee with 100 mg. of caffeine, while the other half ordered decaffeinated coffee or water. Later, they shared their receipts with the USF researchers. It turns out that people who drank caffeinated coffee bought more items and spent more money.

      “Caffeine, as a powerful stimulant, releases dopamine in the brain, which excites the mind and body,” said lead author Dipayan Biswas, the Frank Harvey Endowed Professor of Marketing at USF. “This leads to a higher energetic state, which in turn enhances impulsivity and decreases self-control. As a result, caffeine intake leads to shopping impulsivity in terms of a higher number of items purchased and greater spending.”

      The researchers also discovered that the caffeinated shoppers purchased more non-essential items such as scented candles and fragrances than the other shoppers. There was little difference in the purchases of practical items such as kitchen utensils and storage baskets between both groups.

 

      This is an interesting study. Caffeine increases impulsivity and decreases self-control. One could conclude to not drink caffeinated beverages of any sort before making any major life decisions.

 

Newsmax. Study: Coffee Does Not Affect Heart Rhythms.

 

      The study, published March 23 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that drinking coffee does not seem to predispose healthy people to premature atrial contractions….

      That said, recent research suggests that older adults with a relatively high frequency of PACs are at increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation — a heart arrhythmia where the atria contract erratically instead of maintaining a steady beat.

      A-fib is not immediately life-threatening, but it can cause distressing symptoms like heart palpitations and dizziness. And over time, it can raise the risk of heart failure or stroke….

      There was a small difference when it came to premature ventricular contractions, which involve the heart’s lower chambers. On coffee days, people averaged 154 premature ventricular contractions, versus 102 on caffeine-free days….

      The trial did look at a couple of additional outcomes, and found good and not-so-good news.

      On coffee days, people were a little more physically active (as recorded by Fitbit devices). On the flip side, they got about a half-hour less sleep at night.

      According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, healthy adults can safely have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day — the amount in four to five cups of coffee.

 

      That difference in premature ventricular contractions was not considered to be significant, as a heart beats on average about 100,000 times a day. Therefore, those numbers come out to 0.1% versus 0.15% of the total number of beats. A 0.05% difference is not significant.

      However, exercising more and sleeping less is significant. As the article goes on to suggest, keep your coffee consumption in the morning to lessen its impact on sleep. But that can be difficult for those of us who workout in the late afternoons. I know I had to experiment quite a bit to find the best amount of caffeine to consume to aid my workouts but without hindering sleep.

 

Newsmax. Study: Coffee, Even With a Little Sugar, Boosts Longevity.

 

      A new study shows that coffee’s potential health benefits persist, even if you add a bit of sugar to your java….

      Don’t rush out to order that caramel macchiato just yet, though — people in the study tended to add modest amounts of sugar to their brew, experts noted.

      On average, people put about 1 teaspoon of sugar in each cup of coffee, said Wee and Anthony DiMarino, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition.

      “This is roughly only 16 extra calories, which is not significant,” said DiMarino, who wasn’t involved with the study. “In contrast, most specialty coffees run hundreds of calories from sugars and fats.”

      Researchers found that unsweetened coffee reduced participants’ risk of death regardless how much they drank, with a “sweet spot” of maximum benefit around 2.5 to 3.5 cups a day.

      Sweetened coffee also had health benefits, as long as the person drank fewer than 4 cups a day. Folks who drank more than 4.5 cups of sugary coffee a day had a slight increase in their risk of early death.

 

      As always, moderation is the key. A little bit of sugar and cream are fine. A whole lot of one or both, not so much. And note those recommended amounts. The amount of caffeine in those recommendations is close to the maximum recommended amount in the final paragraph of the previous article.

 

Newsmax. This Type, and Amount, of Coffee Provides Biggest Boost to Heart and Longevity.

 

      Folks who drink two or three cups of coffee daily appear to live longer than people who don’t care for the beverage, new research shows.

      Coffee lovers also seemed to have healthier hearts, which might contribute to the longevity boost, said the team of Australian investigators.

      The findings were published Sept. 27 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

      “Ground, instant and decaffeinated coffee were associated with equivalent reductions in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular disease or any cause,” study author Dr. Peter Kistler, of the Baker Heart and Diabetes Research Institute in Melbourne, said in a journal news release.

      The type of coffee seemed to matter a bit: Folks who drank ground coffee had 27% lower odds of dying during the study period; those who drank decaf coffee had 14% lower odds; and those who drank instant had 11% lower odds….

      “Caffeine is the most well-known constituent in coffee, but the beverage contains more than 100 biologically active components,” he noted. “It is likely that the non-caffeinated compounds were responsible for the positive relationships observed between coffee drinking, cardiovascular disease and survival.”

      This was an observational study, so it wasn’t designed to prove cause-and-effect, only an association.

 

      Though there was a difference in risk reduction between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, the researchers did not consider it to be significant. They instead associated the observed benefits to the many other compounds found in coffee. That means, if you do not want the caffeine rush, such as close to bedtime, then decaffeinated coffee will still give you health benefits.

      On the other hand, this also means that although you can get that caffeine rush from caffeine supplements or energy drinks, they would not provide the benefits observed in the various studies cited in this article.

 

Conclusion

 

      Coffee appears to only be a risk to those with pre-existing high blood pressure. Though one study indicated otherwise, that could be the case for those with preexisting heart disease or other heart problems. But still, if that is you, then check with your cardiologists before consuming coffee or any other caffeinated beverage.

      But for the rest of us, coffee appears to be a healthy beverage after all, as long as it is drunk in moderation and early enough in the day that it does not affect sleep.

      The next issue of FitTips for One and All will look at the benefits of tea drinking.

 


Creationist Diet: Second Edition


Coffee: It’s Potential Benefits and Risks. Copyright 2023 By Gary F. Zeolla.

Disclaimers: The material presented in this article is intended for educational purposes only. The author is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any diet, exercise, or health improvement program, one should consult your doctor. The author is in no way responsible or liable for any bodily harm, physical, mental, or emotional, that results from following any of the advice in this article.


The above article was posted on this site June 1, 2023.
It originally appeared in the free email newsletter FitTips for One and All.

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