Four cups a day may help keep the Grim Reaper away.
You look a little tired, go ahead and grab that second cup of coffee, or third, or fourth. Doing so won’t only help Starbuck’s bottom line, but yours as well. It may improve your health and help you live longer, suggests new research.
A new study with almost 20,000 four cup-a-day coffee drinkers found they got an extra perk from their caffeine perks. They had a 64% lower risk of early death compared to people who drank little or no coffee.
The reduction was even more striking when the subjects were over age 45. This suggests that it may be even more beneficial to consume coffee as we get older.
This study mirrored another recent one that showed coffee drinkers appear to live longer. And it made no difference whether they drank regular or decaf!
Coffee seems to reduce the risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, liver disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s and skin cancer. How can this be?
“Coffee is loaded with antioxidants,” said Joe DeRupo, a spokesman for the National Coffee Association. “Many naturally-occurring antioxidants are in the coffee bean and others get made during roasting. It’s these compounds that science links with positive effects in reducing the risk of several diseases.”
Some compounds found in coffee “are related to better insulin sensitivity, liver function and reduced chronic inflammation,” said V. Wendy Setiawan, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Setiawan was the lead author of one of the recent studies on coffee consumption and longevity.
It is time for a Pregnant Pause?
While coffee consumption may appear to be healthful for many, others should proceed with caution. Pregnant women should limit their intake of caffeinated coffee.
“Current evidence suggests that consuming moderate amounts of caffeine, up to 200 mg per day, (the amount in a 12-ounce cup), is not associated with increased risks for miscarriage or preterm birth,” said Dr. Joseph Wax of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
But the data is contradictory, and there’s little data about the effects of caffeine on fetal growth when you have more than one cup a day.
Have a heart condition? Don’t get too excited about coffee.
If you have any heart conditions, you should limit your coffee and caffeine consumption. Caffeine raises you heart rate which may not be helpful. Those with atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) or hypertension should limit their caffeine intake. One to two cups daily should be fine, but check with your doctor.
Remember that decaffeinated coffee still contains caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains between 75 to 165 milligrams of caffeine. But decaffeinated coffee contains an average of 2 to 7 milligrams per cup.
“Decaf is not ‘no-caf’ — it is very low caf,” so keep that in mind.
As for coffee’s effects on bone health, caffeine in coffee can lead to calcium loss, but it is something to generally not worry about. “Caffeine does increase urinary calcium loss, but it is balanced by increased calcium absorption. So there seems to be no adverse effects on the calcium economy,” said Connie Weaver, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University. They recently led a review of the research on calcium and bone health.
How to optimize your daily grind
Before you take your next sips of coffee, heed these tips:
Add low-fat milk and skip the cream
Cream contributes about 50 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Low-fat milk has fewer calories and will help to offset calcium losses (a tablespoon has only 6 calories, but 19 milligrams of calcium).
Avoid sugar in your coffee.
A teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories. It may not sound like much, but if you add two teaspoons to your brew and drink a few cups per day, the calories add up.
Choose filtered coffee if you have high cholesterol.
Unfiltered coffee, like the kind made from a French press, retains compounds known as cafestol and kahweol. These can contribute to increased cholesterol levels in some people.
If you have trouble falling asleep, it’s best to avoid coffee.
This is kind of a no brainer, but since we have a flair for the obvious, we had to tell you that if you have trouble sleeping, you might want to just stay away from a lot of coffee and caffeine. Especially in the evening or close to bedtime.