Coffee Benefits – Coffee is a very confusing and controversial topic. There are many studies and reports that often contradict each other, however after analyzing all of the current research, it appears that whether coffee will be of benefit or detriment will depend on your individual physiology and constitution.
It May Benefit You:
- You have ER-negative breast cancer
- Have a family history lethal prostate cancer
- Have a family history heart disease
- Have a family history of Alzheimer’s
- Have a family history of gout
- Have a family history of diabetes
It May not Benefit You:
- You get stressed easily
- You are prone to anxiety
- You use a lot of sugar and ultra-pasteurized cream in your coffee
- You have problems sleeping: i.e. you need wine, ambien, melatonin or other depressants to fall asleep. Caffeine can remain in the body for 18 hours!
- You have problems losing weight
- Adolescents, children, pregnant women, and those with hypertension may be more sensitive to the negative adverse effects of caffeine1
The Coffee Benefits
Coffee and Breast Cancer
An article in Breast Cancer Research shows that drinking coffee specifically reduces the risk of antiestrogen-resistant estrogen-receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. Researchers in Sweden found that coffee drinkers with ER-negative breast cancer had a lower incidence of breast cancer than women who rarely drank coffee, but found that several lifestyle factors affected breast cancer rates, such as age at menopause, exercise, weight, education, and a family history of breast cancer.1
Coffee and Lethal Prostate Cancer
Coffee Benefits – A new study led by Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking one to three cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of lethal prostate cancer, and that men who drank the most coffee had a 60% lower risk of developing lethal prostate cancer.2 Coffee contains many beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin, all of which may influence prostate cancer.
Coffee and Heart Disease
A study published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology: Journal of the American Heart Association found that coffee drinkers with a modest intake, two to four cups per day, had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those drinking less than two cups or more than four cups.3 This of course always needs to be looked at in combination with the many lifestyle factors that increase the risk of heart disease including lack of exercise, obesity, poor diet and smoking.
Coffee and Gout | Coffee Benefits
A study from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a prospective study on 45,869 men over age 40 with no history of gout at baseline. Over 12 years of follow-up the risk of gout was 40 percent lower for men who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee a day and 59 percent lower for men who drank 6 or more cups a day than for men who never drank coffee. These findings were independent of all other risk factors for gout. Tea drinking and total caffeine intake were both shown to have no effect on the incidence of gout among the subjects. One of the possible reasons for these results is that coffee contains the phenol chlorogenic acid, a strong antioxidant.
Coffee and Diabetes | Coffee Benefits
In one study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, coffee consumption prevented the development of high-blood sugar and also improved insulin sensitivity in the mice, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes. Coffee also caused a cascade of other beneficial changes in the fatty liver and inflammatory adipocytokines related to a reduced diabetes risk.
Coffee and Memory
There are many contradictory reports of the positive and negative effects of caffeine. Some of the newest research points to caffeine (also present in tea, cocoa, and other foods) as the source of a powerful antioxidant effect that may help protect people from Alzheimer’s and other diseases. One study involved 7,000 people whose cognitive abilities and caffeine consumption were evaluated over four years.Compared to women who drank one cup or less of coffee per day, those who drank over three cups were less likely to show as much decline in memory. Moreover, the benefits increased with age — coffee drinkers being 30 percent less likely to have memory decline at age 65 and rising to 70 percent less likely over age 80.4
Coffee and Cortisol
Caffeine, specifically in coffee, has been shown to elevate stress hormones including cortisol. These hormones are responsible for increased heart rate and blood pressure, a sense of “emergency alert,” increased blood pressure, low immunity, sleeping health-issues and weight management. One study from Norway found that coffee consumption in nurses was significantly related to cortisol levels in the evening. 7
Coffee and B-vitamin Deficiencies
B-vitamins are known as the “anti-stress” vitamins, and coffee in excess can deplete b-vitamins due to its diuretic action. The acids in coffee may also corrode the small intestine’s villi which decreases vitamin absorption. Calcium and other mineral deficiencies can also occur when chronic damage to the villi.
Unfiltered Coffee and Homocysteine Levels
One study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that unfiltered coffee increased plasma homocysteine concentrations in volunteers with normal initial concentrations.8 The authors concluded that it was unclear whether the effect is caused by the cholesterol-raising diterpenes present exclusively in unfiltered coffee or by factors that are also present in filtered coffee. Deficiencies of the vitamins folic acid (B9), pyridoxine (B6), or B12 (cobalamin) can lead to high homocysteine levels.
Coffee and Eczema
In our own practice, we have seen cases of eczema clear up when eliminating coffee. This may be due to the damaged villi from allergenic foods like wheat, with the acids in coffee causing further damage to a weakened intestinal lining.
Why to Choose Organic, Fair Trade Coffee
Non-organic coffee is one the heaviest sprayed crops with pesticides, and chemicals used may not fall under the same regulations of banned chemicals as the United States. Here are some quick facts regarding pesticides:
- In animal studies, many pesticides are carcinogenic, while others (notably, the organochlorines DDT, chlordane, and lindane) are tumor promoters.
- The herbicide atrazine, found in 94% of our water supply, has been linked to birth defects, infertility and cancer.
- Women exposed to the pesticide endosulfan during pregnancy are more likely to have autistic children. A global ban is in place for endosulfan which is used against the coffee cherry borer.
Cafe Altura Organic Coffee: is a good choice if you are looking for organic coffee.
Our recommendations when choosing alternatives:
Teeccino: This is a blend of herbs, grains, fruits and nuts that are roasted and tastes just like coffee.
Guayaki Traditional Mate: This tea from South American contains a mixture of different types of caffeine, is high in antioxidants, and is effective with energy.
Organic Green Tea: Green tea contains many beneficial compounds and different type of caffeine than coffee, and people often report that they don’t experience a crash in the afternoon.
Coconut Water: Many people are simply lacking protein in the morning and electrolytes throughout the day for energy. Coconut water contains many beneficial electrolytes to keep hydration levels normal and energy high.
1. Higdon, Jane V. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition Mar2006, Vol. 46 Issue 2, p101 23p.
2. Duke University. “Morning Coffee Boosts Blood Pressure, Stress Hormones All Day.” ScienceDaily, 5 Mar. 1999. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
3. BioMed Central. “Coffee reduces breast cancer risk, study suggests.” ScienceDaily, 11 May 2011. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
4. American Heart Association. “Coffee or tea: Enjoy both in moderation for heart benefits, Dutch study suggests.” ScienceDaily, 19 Jun. 2010. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
5. American Academy of Neurology. “In Women, Caffeine May Protect Memory.” ScienceDaily, 7 Aug. 2007. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
6. American Chemical Society. “New evidence that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of diabetes.” ScienceDaily, 10 Jun. 2010. Web. 4 Aug. 2011.
8. Harris et al. Coffee, stress and cortisol in nursing staff. Psychoneuroendocrinology Volume 32, Issue 4, May 2007, Pages 322-330
9. Marina J Grubben et al. Unfiltered coffee increases plasma homocysteine concentrations in healthy volunteers: a randomized trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 2, 480-484, February 2000