Health Benefits of Coffee

Study Showed Moderate Coffee Drinking May Prevent Heart Disease in Post-Menopausal Women

Researchers from the University of Minnesota studied the data of more than 27,000 post-menopausal women who participated in the 15-year Iowa Women’s Health study. Coffee consumption, heart disease incidences as well as incidences of cancer were analyzed. The study found that women who reported drinking one to three daily cups of coffee were 24 percent less likely to die of heart disease, compared with those who didn’t drink coffee. In addition, the same group of women who reported drinking one to three daily cups of coffee were also 28 percent less likely to die of other non-cancerous inflammatory diseases. The results of this study were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2006.

Editor’s Note – Data inconclusive on Coffee and Heart Disease

Evidence of any connections between coffee consumption and heart disease is still conflicting and inconclusive. In May 2006, a study published in the Circulation Journal found that coffee drinkers did not have a higher risk of heart disease, even among the heavy consumers who drank more than six cups daily.

Study Showed Heavy Coffee Drinking Did Not Increase the Risk of Heart Disease

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School headed by a Spanish scientist investigated data of over 120,000 participants from two large-scale studies: the Health Professionals Study and the Nurses’ Health Study. Coffee consumption, cholesterol levels and heart disease incidences were analyzed. After making a long list of adjustments, researchers found that coffee drinkers did not have a higher risk of heart disease, even among the heavy consumers who drank more than 6 cups daily. The results of this study were published in the Circulation journal in May 2006.

Editor’s Note – Coffee and Heart Disease: still conflicting!

This study should not be interpreted as an incentive for increasing coffee consumption. Results on coffee and heart disease are still conflicting. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in June 2005, researchers from the University of Athens found that coffee drinkers had more stiffness of the major blood vessel in the body than non-coffee drinkers. They suggested for people with high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease who drink more than 3 cups of coffee a day to cut down.

According to the American Heart Association, whether high caffeine intake increases the risk of heart disease is still under study. Moderate coffee drinking – one to two cups per day – does not seem to be harmful. Therefore, moderation is the key!

Study Affirmed Coffee’s Benefits for its High Level of Antioxidants

Researchers from the University of Scranton released on August 29, 2005 that coffee is the No. 1 source of antioxidants in the American diet. Black tea is the second. Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in foods that can prevent or slow oxidative damage to our body. When our cells utilize oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage to other cells. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and hence prevent and repair damage inflicted by these free radicals. Fruits and vegetables are hailed as the richest sources of antioxidants, but this study shows that coffee is the main source from which most Americans get their antioxidants. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appear to provide similar amounts of antioxidants.

The Bottom Line

It is still unknown whether coffee drinking is beneficial or harmful, especially among women. In light of the conflicting data, the American Heart Association suggests that moderate coffee drinking – one to two cups per day – does not seem to be harmful. Therefore, moderation is the key.

There is more evidence that there are health benefits to drinking cofeee, but if you would like to eat more foods high in antioxidants, it is best to choose colored fruits and vegetables. Not only do they offer antioxidants, they contain higher content of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Berries, red grapes, tomatoes are good sources.

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