The average American coffee drinker consumes about 3.1 cups of coffee per day.  Coffee raises levels of tissue acidity.  It acts as a mild diuretic resulting in increased urine production which leads to dehydration. Coffee can slightly increase blood pressure.  The caffeine in coffee, by acting on the central nervous system, can make one “hyper” and make it more difficult to sleep.  While some may consider these are all reasons not to drink coffee, a great deal of recent research shows there are good reasons why we should drink coffee.

     Coffee has been found to decrease the risk for diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and a host of other health problems.  The caffeine in coffee is seen to help reduce the intensity of migraine headaches, increase the effectiveness of analgesics such as aspirin and help relieve asthma attacks by dilating the bronchial airways.

       In a study of about 130,000 people, those who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.   For women, coffee may mean a lower risk of stroke.  In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee a day, compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all.  A 2009 study from Finland and Sweden showed that out of 1,400 people followed for about 20 years; those who reported drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.

       Studies show that long-term coffee drinking reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 15-year study of over 41,000 women found the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 24% lower among those consuming 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day.   Just one cup of coffee inhibits platelet aggregation within one hour, regardless of its caffeine content.  Other studies have found that regular coffee consumption reduced inflammation and raised HDL cholesterol (the good guys) while decreasing coronary calcification.  In 2010, researchers discovered that the phenolic acid in 4-8 cups of coffee have a direct action of dampening inflammatory activity.  Chronic low-level inflammation has been associated with diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes, as well as aging.  Phenolic acid has also been seen to increase resistance of LDL cholesterol to oxidative damage.

       A large meta-analysis reviewed the combined data from 24 previous studies and found an overall 30% lower incidence of colorectal cancer among those categorized as heavy coffee drinkers.  In a 2005 study, just one cup a day was associated with a 42% lower risk of liver cancer. A number of studies have reported similar conclusions. According to a study in the Annals of Epidemiology, those drinking 4 cups of coffee daily exhibited a full 84% lower risk of cirrhosis. This is consistent with an earlier 8-year study of over 120,000 people that found that each additional daily cup of coffee lowered the risk of dying from cirrhosis by 23%.  In case-controlled human studies, compared to coffee abstainers, those who drank the most coffee cut their risks of breast cancer by 57% and diabetes by 67%.

       Cutting the risk of diabetes is of great importance seeing that around 463 million people (between age 20 and 79) worldwide are diabetic.   Diabetes increases the risk for cardiovascular and kidney disease, neuropathy (reduced nerve function), reduced blood circulation and a host of other health problems.   

       Scientific research has show that regular coffee consumption significantly reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, the type most people have.  A 2009 meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine combined data on over 450,000 people and found that every additional cup per day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 5 to 10%.  Drinking just one cup of coffee a day, caffeinated or decaffeinated, was shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes by 13%.

       The ingredient in coffee responsible for lowering blood sugar is a substance called chlorogenic acid.  Chlorogenic acid interferes with glucose synthesis and release in the body.  It appears to do this by inhibiting the pathway of glucose-6-phosphatase, an enzyme that regulates production of glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates and glycogen released by the liver.  This results in lowered glucose in the blood with the additional result of insulin activity being reduced which helps reduce production of fat-storing tissue. 

       There are diabetic drugs called alpha-glycosidase inhibitors which prevent the action of the enzyme alpha-glycosidase from breaking down complex sugars into glucose to facilitate their delivery and absorption into the blood stream.  Chlorogenic acid has been shown to reduce the action of this enzyme and thus reduce delivery of glucose into the blood. 

       Some studies found that coffee compounds raise levels of detoxifying enzymes that protect against DNA damage. This may be the reason coffee consumption appears to lower the risk of certain cancers.  Research done on coffee indicates chemicals called polyphenols are responsible for many of coffee’s benefits.  Polyphenols appear to modify key enzymes that improve intracellular signaling which is the communication system that facilitates cellular actions such as tissue repair, immunity, and homeostasis.

Organic Versus Non-Organic Coffee:

       Coffee bean plants happen to be one of the most heavily sprayed plants in the world.  A variety of pesticides and herbicides are used in the farming of coffee.  These chemicals can leave residues on and in the beans.  Sometimes the bitter taste some coffee’s have is associated with these chemical residues.  Fortunately there are available a number of organically grown coffee’s where the growers do not use these chemicals.  We recommend drinking organically grown coffee.    

Caffeinated Versus Decaffeinated Coffee:

       While caffeine has been identified with some of the benefits associated with coffee, decaffeinated coffee appears to contain many of the compounds associated with coffee’s benefits, including chlorogenic acid which has been identified as the primary substance involved in reducing blood sugar levels.  When drinking decaffeinated coffee, choose brands that use a water decaf process as opposed to the chemical process which uses chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents to remove the caffeine.  At Milk ‘N Honey we carry an organic caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee from the company Cafe Altura.