PHONE: +52 442 6889133

Is drinking coffee good or bad for your health?

» ProSalud

Drinking coffee has been linked to reducing the risk of all types of conditions, including Parkinson's disease, melanoma, prostate cancer, and even suicide.

There is no doubt that Americans love coffee. Even last spring, when the pandemic closed New York, almost all the neighborhood stores that sold coffee to go managed to stay open and I was impressed by how many people were venturing out to start their days of confinement with their favorite store-made preparation.

An elderly friend who, before the pandemic, traveled by subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan to buy her favorite blend of ground coffee managed to get it delivered to her home. “It was worth the extra cost,” she told me. I use a coffee maker that uses coffee capsules, and last summer, when it seemed reasonably safe to go shopping, I stocked up on a year's supply of the blends I like (luckily, the capsules are now recyclable).

company Archives - National Geographic in Spanish

We should all be happy to know that, no matter what we had to do to guarantee that favorite cup of coffee, in fact maybe it has helped us stay healthy. Certainly, the latest studies on the effects of coffee and caffeine, its main active ingredient, are calming for health. Its consumption has been linked to a reduction at the risk of all types of illnesses, including Parkinson's disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, depression, suicide, cirrhosis, liver cancer, melanoma and prostate cancer.

In fact, in numerous studies around the world, daily consumption of four or five 236-ounce cups of coffee (about 400 milligrams of caffeine) has been associated with a reduction in mortality rates. In a study of more than 200.000 participants followed for 30 years, 15 percent of people drank three to five cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, less likely to die prematurely, for any reason, above the people who avoided coffee. Perhaps the most dramatic was a 50 percent reduction in suicide risk among men and women who were moderate coffee consumers, perhaps because it stimulated the production of brain chemicals that have antidepressant effects.

How he concluded a report published last summer by a research team at the Harvard School of Public Health, although current evidence may not justify recommending coffee or caffeine for prevent diseases, for most people drinking coffee in moderation “can be part of a healthy lifestyle.”

The benefits of freeze-dried coffee for health, between cholesterol and physical resistance

It wasn't always like this. I have lived through decades of sporadic warnings about the possible health harms of coffee. Over the years, coffee has been considered to cause conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, pancreatic cancer, anxiety disorders, nutrient deficiencies, gastric reflux disease, migraine, insomnia, and premature death. Until 1991, the World Health Organization had coffee on the list of possible carcinogens. In some of the studies that have now been discredited, smoking, not drinking coffee (the two often went hand in hand), was responsible for the alleged harm.

“These recurring fears have produced a very distorted view in the public,” said Walter C. Willett, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “Overall, despite several concerns that have arisen out of the blue over the years, coffee is incredibly safe and may have several important benefits.”

That doesn't mean that coffee is the best certificate of good health. Caffeine crosses the placenta and reaches the fetus, and drinking coffee during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature birth. Pregnancy alters the way the body metabolizes caffeine, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to abstain completely, only drink decaffeinated coffee, or at a minimum limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams a day, the amount of about two standard size cups of coffee in the United States.

The most common negative effect associated with caffeinated coffee is sleep disturbance. In the brain, caffeine binds to the same receptor as the neurotransmitter adenosine, a natural sedative. Willett, one of the authors of the Harvard report, told me: “I really like coffee, but I only drink it once in a while because otherwise I don't sleep very well. "Many people with sleep problems don't recognize the connection with coffee."

Last winter, when Michael Pollan discussed his audiobook on caffeine with Terry Gross on NPR, said caffeine was “the enemy of good sleep” because it interferes with deep sleep. He confessed that, after the challenging task of giving up coffee: “I went back to sleeping like a teenager.”

Willett, 75, said: “You don't need to completely stop drinking to minimize the impact on sleep.” But she acknowledged that a person's sensitivity to caffeine "is likely to increase with age." People also metabolize coffee at a highly variable rate, so some can sleep soundly after drinking caffeinated coffee at dinner, while others have trouble sleeping if they drink coffee at lunch. However, if you can fall asleep without problems after an afternoon of coffee, it can affect your ability to get adequate deep sleep, Pollan mentions in his upcoming book, This Is Your Mind on Plants.

Willett said it is possible to develop a degree of tolerance to caffeine's effect on sleep. My 75-year-old brother, a regular caffeinated coffee drinker, claims it has no effect on him. However, building a tolerance to caffeine could mitigate its benefits if, say, you want it to help you stay alert and focused while driving or taking an exam.

Caffeine is one of more than a thousand chemicals in coffee, not all of which are beneficial. Among those that also have positive effects are polyphenols and antioxidants. Polyphenols can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes; Antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects, can counteract heart disease and cancer, America's top killers.

None of this implies that coffee is beneficial regardless of its preparation. When brewed without a paper filter, such as in a French press, Norwegian boil coffee, espresso, or Turkish coffee, oily chemicals called diterpenes are produced that can increase artery-damaging LDL cholesterol. However, these chemicals are almost not found in filtered and instant coffee. Knowing I have a cholesterol problem, I dissected a coffee capsule and found a paper filter lining the plastic cup, phew!

Popular add-ins that some people use, such as creamer and sweet syrups, also counteract the potential health benefits of coffee, as they can turn this calorie-free beverage into a high-calorie dessert. “All the things people put in their coffee can result in a junk food with up to 500 or 600 calories,” Willett said. For example, a mocha frappuccino from Starbucks It has 51 grams of sugar, 15 grams of fat (10 of which are saturated) and 370 calories.

Now that the summer season is around the corner, more people will be inclined to opt for cold brew coffee. Cold coffee or cold brew, which is growing in popularity, counteracts coffee's natural acidity and the bitter taste produced by pouring boiling water over the beans. Cold brew coffee is made by steeping the beans in cold water for several hours, then filtering the liquid through a paper filter to remove the beans and harmful diterpenes, and maintain the flavor and caffeine you enjoy. Cold brew coffee can also be made with decaffeinated coffee.

Decaffeinated coffee is not completely without health benefits. As with caffeinated coffee, the polypenols it contains have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.

Jane Brody is the 'Personal Health' columnist, a position she has held since 1976. She has written more than a dozen books, including bestsellers Jane Brody's Nutrition Book Jane Brody's Good Food Book.

Jane Brody is the Personal Health columnist, a position she has held since 1976. She has written more than a dozen books including the best sellers “Jane Brody's Nutrition Book” and “Jane Brody's Good Food Book.” 


author avatar
Yair Ramirez
Currency / Currency
Open chat