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Drinking your morning coffee may give you the energy to start your day, but did you also know that your daily coffee habit is actually good for your health, especially your cardiovascular health? The coffee plant and its beans are chock full of thousands of chemicals and polyphenol antioxidants, vitamins, bioflavonoids, and minerals that promote heart health and help to neutralize the effect of naturally occurring caffeine. Coffee affects your health in several positive ways.
Coffee’s effect on heart health
According to several studies, coffee appears to have a protective effect on the heart. Drinking over four cups coffee per day can reduce your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems by 18% (Doheny 2010). Another study found that drinking coffee might take some strain off your heart by triggering a 30% increase in blood flow in the small blood vessels (Thompson 2013).
Drinking a moderate amount of coffee each day—about one to five cups—can help you avoid clogged arteries. The plaque that forms in arteries consists of calcium deposits and a hardening of the arteries and is a big predictor of heart disease and risk for heart attack.
Coffee’s effect on other conditions
There is more good health news for coffee drinkers. A February 2015 report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee addressed coffee consumption. Based on several studies and meta-analyses, they noted that there is strong evidence showing that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day (or up to 400 mg of caffeine per day) is not associated with an increased risk for long-term health problems in healthy people. (One cup of coffee usually contains about 100 mg of caffeine.)
In fact, they also noted that drinking coffee with about 400 mg of caffeine might even lower a person’s risk for the following chronic conditions:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Melanoma and other skin cancer
- Multiple sclerosis (drinking four to six cups per day)
- Dementia and mild cognitive impairment
- Parkinson’s disease
In addition, research that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that coffee consumption can lower a person’s risk for premature death (Freedman 2012). While researchers could not find a causal finding, the more coffee people drank the lower their risk of death became. That includes deaths from heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, diabetes, infections, and injuries. Other benefits to coffee and caffeine include helping with alertness, boosting metabolism (especially if consumed before exercise), and reducing risk of injuries.
How to keep your coffee healthy
Coffee affects your health best when your drink it black. Once you add milk, creamer, nondairy creamer, flavors, sugar, and artificial sweeteners you are potentially hurting your health and reducing coffee’s therapeutic benefits. To get the most health benefits from your coffee skip the add-ins. If you really need to doctor up your coffee, try adding rice or coconut milk.
The color of your coffee makes a difference to your health too. Choose darker roasts, which typically have more neuroprotective agents and can help restore antioxidant levels (vitamin E and glutathione) than unroasted green and lightly roasted coffees. If you are overweight, keep in mind that drinking darker roasts has been shown to have significantly better weight-loss results in obese coffee drinkers.
Whenever possible, buy certified organic coffee. Most coffee beans are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Purchasing sustainable “shade-grown” coffee also helps protect the planet, rainforests, and all the birds and animals that live there, all while protecting your body from harmful pesticides.
So grab that cup of Joe and drink it guilt-free. If coffee is just not for you, however, you can also get tremendous health benefits from drinking green tea. Green tea is considered one of the healthiest drinks for men. Green tea is high in powerful antioxidants, promotes brain health, and boosts metabolism. Men in Japan who commonly drink several cups of green tea per day enjoy the lowest prostate cancer rates in the world. That is just one reason why green tea is included in male health supplements and is an important ingredient in the best prostate supplements. Whether you choose green tea or black coffee (or perhaps some of each) you can take advantage of the health benefits that accompany your beverage of choice.
Doheny, K. Coffee may cut risk of heart rhythm problems. Mar 2 2010. WebMD
Freedman ND PhD et al. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 366:1891-1904 May 17, 2012.
Thompson D. Does caffeine in coffee perk up heart health? 2013 Nov 20. WebMD