An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away? Try Coffee


The decision to get healthy usually involves exercise, stress reduction, and diet. People join a gym, buy relaxation CDs and change their eating habits. They reduce fat and sugar consumption, eat more vegetables, increase fiber intake, and cut out caffeine. The cup of coffee each morning is a thing of the past. Although these people may think they are changing their health for the better, they may actually be opening themselves up for more health issues in the long run.

Only in recent years have the benefits of red wine been published. Similarly, many experts today believe that caffeine, especially that found in coffee, can be a benefit to health if not overindulged. Coffee can be part of a healthy diet.

Cognitive benefits

Several recent studies indicate that coffee may help prevent dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease. Its consumption appears to increase the efficacy of short-term memory, allowing people to cope more easily with routine tasks. Scores on tests were also higher after coffee. Elderly people who regularly drank coffee performed even better in these studies than their counterparts. Researchers conclude that coffee seems to benefit long term cognitive abilities.

Blood sugar benefits

A recent Harvard study’s findings indicate that daily coffee drinkers may also be less likely to develop type 2 Diabetes. Other studies have supported this conclusion, indicating that the risk may be cut in half for those who drink coffee.

Cancer prevention benefits

Coffee contains methylpyridinium, a compound found to prevent cancer, a compound found only in roasted coffee beans. Methylpyridinium’s effects are potent enough that studies have indicated coffee consumption can reduce the chances of liver, oral, and prostate cancers.

Oral care benefits

Coffee can even benefit oral health. Another element in coffee, trigonelline, contains anti-bacterial and anti-adhesive properties. These components can actually help prevent cavities.

Still, moderation is key

Many of these studies found that regular consumption of coffee did not equal extreme consumption. They found little or no difference between the health benefits of 3-5 cups and 6 or more. And of course, too much caffeine can cause health issues, as well.

So the answer appears to be moderation. When changing habits to develop healthier ones, giving up coffee entirely may not be the best answer. While reducing the number of cups may be a good idea, especially if intake is more than 5 cups a day, drinking somewhere around 3 cups might be a good part of a healthy daily routine. The long-term health benefits might just offset the risks for most consumers.

“Health Effects of Coffee.”
Sid Kirchheimer. “Coffee: The New Health Food?”