Coffee consumption is a daily occurrence for many people around the world. From the morning cup of coffee to tall glasses of iced tea for lunch, and chocolate desserts after dinner.
Effects of coffee consumption will vary greatly from one drinker to the next, and of course, the amounts consumed will differ as well.
As is documented, the average consumption of coffee per day of the U.S. population is about 250 mg or between 2 and 3 cups. The people in Sweden and Finland, are cited as being in the range of 400 mg a day for adults.
We are all aware that coffee contains caffeine and is therefore a stimulant. What is confusing though, is the stated health benefits and ill-effects of coffee. As with every other food or beverage of our diets, even the experts disagree.
But keep this in mind, with or without the caffeine, coffee is rich in biologically active substances, such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
The 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, reported that drinking coffee can be incorporated safely into healthy eating patterns with up to five cups of a day, or approximately 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with no detrimental effects.
The 2015 dietary guidelines say that their recommendation is based on strong and consistent evidence showing that, in healthy adults, moderate coffee consumption is not associated with an increased risk of major chronic diseases or premature death, especially from heart disease.
The Sensation With Coffee
The use of coffee in lattes, mocha's, and breves has existed for many years. Though, over the last 10 years new ways to drink coffee has been invented.
Bulletproof Coffee was created by Dave Asprey and first posted to his blog in 2009. It is a branded coffee drink consisting of "Upgraded" black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and "Brain Octane oil" (an 8-carbon fraction of medium-chain triglyceride oil).
It is also claimed by Dave that Bulletproof coffee can give you a boost of energy and help with brain function.
White coffee is another new way to get your caffeine. It is said to be low in acid and contains a whopping 70% more caffeine than the traditional black brewed coffee.
The taste of white coffee is described as a very “light earthy flavor".
Yes you read it right. Coffee that has been infused with nitrogen. The nitrogen is said to affect two main things in the coffee: taste and texture.
According to Stumptown Roasters, compared to regular cold brew, this nitrogen infused cold brew has a crisper and slightly sweeter taste.
There are many unique health benefits to drinking cold brew coffee. Some of them include:
- Improved Control of Gastric Acid Secretion, (no acid reflux)
- Less Acid in Coffee Overall
- Increased Amounts of Antioxidants, (Chlorogenic Acid)
- Less cafestol and kahweol
- Lower caffeine content
The question is though, is it the caffeine in coffee that provides the claimed health benefits, or is it something elese found in that cup of coffee?
How Coffee Effects Your Health
Source of Antioxidants
When you're treating yourself to a cup of coffee, you're not only getting caffeine but several other beneficial compounds, including antioxidants.
Coffee, believe it or not, happens to be the biggest source of antioxidants, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined. Not only is coffee by far the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, but also in other cultures around the world, including Spain, Norway, Japan, Poland and France as studies have shown.
Coffee contains the following vitamins and minerals.
A 6 to 8 ounce cup of coffee contains (RDA - Recommended Daily Allowance):
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
- Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
- Magnesium and Niacin (B-3): 2% of the RDA.
When hot water runs through the coffee grounds while brewing, the substances in the coffee beans mix with the water and become part of the drink.
The nutrients are filtered out though, when using a coffee filter. To get the benefits of the antioxidants, use a French Press coffee maker. Or try unfiltered traditional Turkish or Greek coffee.
The journal Annals of Internal Medicine conducted a study to assess the association between coffee consumption and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer. They used 41,736 men and 86,214 women volunteers with no history of CVD or cancer at the start of the study.
After adjustment for age, smoking, and other CVD and cancer risk factors, the researchers found that coffee consumption was not statistically significantly associated with risk for cancer death. And regular coffee consumption was not associated with an increased mortality rate in either men or women.
The European Society of Cardiology said in a news release (Aug 2017) that the observational study in nearly 20,000 participants suggests that coffee can be part of a healthy diet in healthy people. The study concluded saying in those who were at least 45 years old, drinking two additional cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of mortality.
A study conducted by HPRU Medical Research Center, University of Surrey in the United Kingdom and published in the journal Psychopharmacology compared the effects of caffeine on volunteers using both coffee and tea.
The group of researchers concluded saying, "The results indicate that ingestion of caffeinated beverages may maintain aspects of cognitive and psycho-motor performance throughout the day and evening when caffeinated beverages are administered repeatedly. This study also demonstrates that day-long tea consumption produces similar alerting effects to coffee, despite lower caffeine levels..."
A Harvard Health Letter, published January of 2012, reported findings that coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of depression among women, a lower risk of prostate cancer among men, and a lower risk of stroke among men and women. Go back a little further, and you'll come across reports of coffee's protective effects against...Parkinson's disease and diabetes.
Coffee may have health benefits protecting against Parkinson's disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.
Chlorogenic acid found in coffee can reduce the production of glucose by the liver and also lessen the hyperglycemic peak in the blood following the consumption of sugar.
Many of the phenols or acids found in coffee, such as caffeic acid, exhibit modest, dose-dependent anti-carcinogenic properties. Other foods that contain caffeic acid include among others:
- olive oil
Despite its name, caffeic acid is unrelated to caffeine.
Besides caffeine there are several other compounds in a cup of coffee, many of which science has yet to identify. A number of different acids have been identified as well. The ones that survive the roasting process include:
- Citric acid
- Phosphoric acid
- Malic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
- Acetic acid
- Tartaric acid
- Quinic acid
Green coffee beans contain high levels of citric acid. During the roasting process of coffee beans, citric acid reaches a maximum at light to medium roasts, and quickly diminishes as roasting levels progress.
Drift Away Coffee says that quinic acid is produced as other acids degrade. High concentrations of it are common in darkly roasted coffee, stale coffee, and that which was brewed several hours ago but kept warm on a hot plate.
Although it gives coffee a clean finish, quinic acid is the main acid that turns stomachs sour.
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs) are largely responsible for a coffee’s perceived acidity.
Negatives Of Consuming Coffee
Research appears to bear out some risks to an individuals health with consuming coffee.
High consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels because of the compounds cafestol and kahweol found in the beverage.
In addition, some studies found how quickly you metabolize coffee may affect your health risk. Drinking two or more cups a day can increase the risk of heart disease in individuals with a specific genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.
Consumption of high doses of chlorogenic acid, found in coffee, or black tea can increase homocysteine concentrations in the blood.
Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in blood plasma. High levels of the amino acid are believed to increase the chance of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and osteoporosis.
If you love the taste and the socializing aspects of drinking coffee but are concerned about caffeine, there is a large and growing range of decaffeinated coffees worth trying. Be sure though to drink decaf that uses the Swiss Water Process for extracting the caffeine, a more healthy alternative.