Coffee is health food: Myth or fact?

It isn’t that simple. The health benefits of coffee are protection from a litany of diseases that include:

Coffee lovers can take heart. A study comprising upwards of 25,000 coffee drinkers in South Korea found that three to five cups a day may decrease “the prevalence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in . . . young and middle-aged asymptomatic men and women. CAC is a great predictor of future heart disease and hasn’t been studied much in the past.” 

The same number of cups (average of four a day) could moderately reduce one’s risk for melanoma, malignant skin cancer. The silver lining in the findings–decaffeinated coffee didn’t afford any protection. Caffeine is the sought-after ingredient in our suspected health food.

 The above study supports a “previous finding of a link between coffee and a reduced risk for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.”

The above study confirms a “previous finding of a link between coffee and a reduced risk for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.” Further, another study found coffee intake of four to six cups daily and consuming that amount for a five to 10 year period lessened the risk of acquiring MS. So did drinking a lot of coffee over five to 10 years. Ongoing research will study coffee’s impact on long-term disability from MS.

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, investigators see coffee as neuroprotective, i.e., suppress the production of inflammatory markers in the brain. Researchers study other compounds in coffee that may be beneficial.

Also, remember a “cup” is 5 to 8 ounces of black, and, maybe, with a bit of cream or sugar. 

Researchers have been studying the health effects of coffee for decades:

  • 1976: The Nurses’ Health Study has followed the coffee consumption habits of healthy men and women.
  • 1986: The Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study on the Nurses’ Health Study.

“We did not find any relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of death from any cause, death from cancer, or death from cardiovascular disease. Even people who drank up to six cups of coffee per day were at no higher risk of death.” ( Dr. Rob van Dam, Harvard School of Health.)

Live long and drink coffee. Primarily, don’t engage in unhealthy practices, that in the past, went hand-in-hand with coffee drinking–i.e., smoking and eschewing physical activity. Today, we don’t necessarily interlace coffee and those behaviors. Besides, researchers recognize this and screen their results for those unhealthy habits.

Drink up! Coffee shops are also neighborhood and social hotspots, and both fun and functional.

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