Coffee - The Magic Bean?

Coffee - The Magic Bean?

The history of coffee goes back possibly to the 10th century in Arabia. The modern version of roasted coffee made its way out of Arabia in the 1600s, into Europe, and slowly made its way to Asia, and then eventually the New World.

Today, there are coffee shops literally around almost every corner. It is a favorite beverage of much of the Western world. Many of us can’t imagine starting out the day without that delicious aroma and feeling of satisfaction with that first sip!

Is coffee also beneficial for our health?

Let’s look into that.

Coffee is a complex mixture of more than 800 volatile compounds, including caffeine. The particular mix of compounds depends on coffee variety, roasting, and processing. It is rich in substances called polyphenols that are potent anti-oxidants. The amount of caffeine in coffee is influenced by how it is prepared and amounts vary between 65 to 120 mg in a cup of coffee.

Here are some of the areas coffee has been found to be beneficial:

  1. Decreases cardiovascular risk: In 2014, a meta-analysis of prior studies showed the lowest stroke and heart attack risk at 3 to 5 cups per day, and heavy coffee consumption was not associated with elevated CVD risk.
  2. Promotes weight loss: Caffeine in coffee is well known to be associated with reducing body fat by promoting breakdown of fat. Also, coffee has been linked to satiety, or less hunger. There is evidence that decaffeinated coffee also may help decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness through particular hormones in the gut.
  3. Helps glucose metabolism and decreases risk for type 2 diabetes: Coffee may help reduce the spike in blood sugar after eating.  Magnesium in coffee can improve the body’s response to insulin and reduce the risk of diabetes.  Drinking ≥4 cups/day of coffee was related to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have been found to help reduce diabetes risk. Total consumption of at least three cups of coffee or tea per day may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  4. Possibly protects against Alzheimer’s disease: A 2010 meta-analysis suggested a trend towards caffeine protecting against cognitive decline and dementia. Larger and better trials are needed to study this effect further.
  5. Might decrease severity of inflammatory bowel disease: A report studying 41 836 postmenopausal women for 15 years showed that high coffee consumption is inversely correlated to the severity of inflammatory diseases.
  6. Decreased risk for colon cancer:  Many studies suggest anti-inflammatory effect and decreased risk for colon cancer, with caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee with varying amounts of coffee studied.

References:

Nieber, The Impact of Coffee on Health.Planta Med 2017; 83(16): 1256-1263

Circulation. 2014 Feb 11;129(6):643-59. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005925. Epub 2013 Nov 7.

Diabetes Care. 2014 Feb;37(2):569-86.

Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Dec;96(49):e9070

Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 May;83(5):1039-46.

van Dieren, S., Uiterwaal, C.S.P.M., van der Schouw, Y.T. et al. Diabetologia (2009) 52: 2561.

J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 1:S187-204. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-091387.