You do not want to talk to me before I have my coffee in the morning. I am grumpy and irritable and probably have a headache. I know I’m not the only one with this problem! Good news! Not only does coffee make you a more pleasant person, it may also help you live longer!
Yes, seriously! A study released last week found that drinking coffee may help you live longer and reduce your risk for several health conditions. With these kinds of health benefits, it’s definitely worth pouring that extra cup of joe each morning. Here are the top 10 conditions that coffee may reduce your risk for:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Oral cancer
- Kidney stones
- Parkinson’s disease
- Death after a heart attack
- Liver cancer
- Chronic liver disease
The magic number seems to be three to four cups of coffee per day (a standard “cup of coffee” is 6 oz). That’s the number where researchers saw the most significant health effects. Most of the improvements were seen with both regular and decaff coffee, so don’t worry if you don’t want the buzz (although, I no longer know you if you only drink decaff). If caffeine isn’t a problem for you (or is an absolute necessity), it may provide some added benefits as well.
What makes coffee so magic?
Coffee is made up of over 1,000 different compounds that can contribute to these health benefits. May of these compounds are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer. We don’t know if it is a few specific compounds or the interaction of a variety of compounds that help us live longer. What we do know is that drinking coffee is a healthy choice for most people.
Yes, I did use a modifier in that last sentence. There are a few people who may want to skip the coffee.
- Coffee consumption in pregnant women may increase risk for low birth weight, preterm birth, loss of pregnancy, and childhood leukemia.
- Coffee can increase the risk of bone fractures in women who are at an increased risk for osteoporosis. This doesn’t seem to apply to men (so unfair!).
Is there a catch?
How you take your coffee could negate the health effects. Think of a scale. On one side you have coffee. On the other side you have everything you put into your coffee. If one of side of your scale just filled up with sugar, you’re probably cancelling out most of the health effects of your coffee.
The best way to drink you coffee is black. Yes, I hear you laughing at me, but bear with me. Black coffee has zero calories. Ok, not exactly zero, but the number is so low that it’s not worth counting. Coffee is basically delicious, caffeinated water.
Adding unsweetened milk or cream to your coffee is fine if you just can’t take straight, black coffee. Milk provides calcium and protein and its own health boost. Don’t worry too much about skim versus whole. The key here is unsweetened.
If you’re still shaking your head at me, there are ways that you can trick your brain into thinking your coffee is sweet without adding sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Choose a flavored coffee. I’m not talking about adding a flavor at Starbuck’s. Think Panera Bread’s Hazelnut coffee. While these may have an extra calorie or two, they taste sweeter without actually adding sweetener.
- Add spices before brewing. By making your own flavored coffee, you can eliminate any added sugar and create your own signature blend! Who needs Starbuck’s when you can make your own pumpkin spice coffee by adding cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg to your coffee grounds?
The next time someone gives you grief about your coffee habit, you can just smile and know that they will die before you. Or you can clue them in on how coffee is basically the best thing ever. Your call!
If you want to know more, you can read the research article here.
How do you take your coffee?