You might think the best thing about coffee is that it helps you get up in the morning. Now, two large new research studies give you another reason to have a cup—coffee may help you live longer due to a decreased risk of of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The two research studies were released in the July 11 2017 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine. One study involved 521,330 persons from 10 different European countries, studied over a 16.4-year period, beginning in the mid-1990s. The research was simple. It studied the people who survived vs. those that died during this period, compared with how much coffee they drank.
The results showed that the men who drank coffee had a 12% lower risk of dying during the study than men who didn’t drink coffee. The risk for women dying was 7% less if the woman was a coffee drinker. And in general, the more coffee the man or woman drank per day, the less the risk of dying.
The other study studied the same situation over a similar time period, but studied 185, 855 people in the US. The results were similar to the European findings, but even more impressive. Here, the results showed an overall 18% lower risk of dying during the study if a person drank two or more cups per day.
The lower risk of death was due to a decreased risk of: heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Caffeinated or not-caffeinated
The studies both showed that it didn’t matter whether a person drinks caffeinated or decaffeinated. Both types gave a protective effect. This indicates that caffeine was not the protective component. The researchers believe that the health benefits is likely due to the large quantity of antioxidants in the beverage, including polyphenols, diterpenes, and melanoidins.
Why coffee protects
Perhaps surprisingly, coffee supplies for many people the largest quantity of antioxidants in their daily diet. These antioxidant compounds help neutralize the free radicals that are constantly being formed in your body as your cells react with oxygen. These free radicals promote everything from cancer to heart disease to how well you age, and “wiping them up” gives protective benefits. This drink also lowers our overall state of inflammation in the body, decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer, and further, promotes better liver functioning and glucose metabolism
Some people can’t tolerate the beverage because it gives them acid reflux, or makes them jittery. The studies suggest that de-caffeinated might be an option. But the authors state that for most people, up to four cups per day is fine. Of course if you have medical conditions, check with your doctor first before drinking lots of coffee.
Finally, this study doesn’t say if you don’t drink coffee you will die younger. It could also be that coffee drinkers just take better care of themselves in other ways, and that is the reason for the lower death rate, rather than the coffee itself. This seems unlikely. So, if you like to drink it, keep going, and maybe consider drinking a little more if it agrees with your system.
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