If you’ve been wondering what all that coffee is doing to you, cheer up. A recent review of data completed at Gill Heart Institute in Kentucky focused on the cardiovascular, genetic, antioxidant and caffeine effects of coffee and found that drinking the brew reduces the risk of mortality right across the board. They also documented that coffee:
*Reduces risk of stroke
*Does not increase risk of coronary heart disease
*Does not increase risk of congestive heart failure and may be preventative
*Does not increase risk of sudden cardiac death
*Decreases risk of type 2 diabetes
*Does not increase risk of hypertension
*Does not increase risk of metabolic syndrome
*Arrhythmias with coffee are not a significant factor
The study goes on to note that coffee contains a myriad of other components besides caffeine, especially antioxidant polyphenols. These may be altered or removed by coffee preparation methods such a paper filtration or putting milk into the coffee. Additionally, there was no noted cardiovascular advantage or disadvantage to drinking decaffeinated coffee.
“The bottom line on coffee for those who enjoy the brew, is that it is a wonderful beverage with rare associated CV [cardiovascular] disadvantage and with much to recommend it from an overall CV standpoint”, concluded the study author.
It’s not just fruits and vegetables that make the world go round
Other scientists have reported that the average cup of coffee has more antioxidants than an average serving of blueberries or an orange. And the much touted green tea can’t hold a candle to coffee, with a cup of it containing only about 25% of the antioxidants as found in a cup of coffee.
Antioxidants are the anti-aging polyphenols that counter oxidation in the body. The high amounts of antioxidants found in coffee may prevent or delay the diseases associated with growing older.
The dominant antioxidant polyphenol in coffee is chlorogenic acid (CGA). Scientists have demonstrated that CGA exerts many biological properties that include antibacterial, protection against cancer, and regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism.
It looks like the combo of caffeine and CGA is a powerful one for weight loss. Another recent study concluded that this combination suppresses fat accumulation and body weight gain by regulating mRNA and protein expression levels of liver lipid metabolism-related enzymes. These affects are stronger than those exerted by CGA and caffeine individually.
Regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of liver cancer. Two studies have found that as consumption of coffee increases, the risk of liver cancer decreases. This association is seen in the healthy as well in those with previous liver disease. The decrease was large, and the findings were consistent across both studies. Amazingly, a two cup per day increase in the amount of coffee consumed was associated with a 43% reduction in risk of developing liver cancer.
As for cataracts, researchers in Sweden followed 30,607 women for a period of 7.7 years to see how total antioxidant capacity affected their development of cataracts. They found that women with the highest antioxidant rating had the lowest incidence of age-related cataracts.
Coffee has a long-term impact on cognition. Researchers in Finland investigated the association between coffee and tea drinking at midlife and the outcome of Alzheimer’s disease years later. The 1409 participants were followed for 21 years as part of a longitudinal study. Those who had been coffee drinkers at midlife showed a significantly lower incidence of Alzheimer’s compared to those who did not drink coffee or drank only small amounts. An jaw dropping 65% decrease was noted in participants who drank 3 to 5 cups of coffee each day. No association was found between cognitive decline and tea drinking.
Another study found that caffeine all by itself may protect against development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers credited caffeine’s antioxidants as the protective force, through their ability to reduce inflammation.
Coffee and caffeine are known to affect the limbic system, a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It’s what powers emotions like fear or pleasure, and drives like hunger or dominance. But data on the influence of coffee and its constituents on neurotransmitter release has been limited. Researchers investigated dopamine release and mobilization in cells after stimulation with coffee. Dopamine is a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter, and it plays important roles in the human brain that include motivation and reward behavior, and motor control. The researchers concluded that each of the coffee constituents tested stimulated dopamine release, underscoring the multifaceted nature of coffee.
So if you’re having a cup of coffee right now, relax and enjoy it knowing you are contributing to so may aspects of your health.