The Pros And Cons Of Coffee

Many individuals express concern about the possible negative side effects of drinking coffee. While current research suggests that there are indeed some negative health effects associated with the popular beverage, coffee drinkers may be surprised to learn that there are actually more health benefits associated with coffee than there are risks. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of coffee.

Pro: Decreased Risk Of Diabetes

Individuals who drink coffee on a daily basis have a lower chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes than their non-coffee drinking counterparts. According to studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, with each additional cup of coffee consumed per day the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes was cut by 7 percent. The researchers followed close to 500,000 men and women over the course of 18 different field studies to come up with the data.

Pro: Decreased Risk Of Parkinson's And Alzheimer's

Current research suggests that there may be an unidentified ingredient found in coffee that, when combined with caffeine, may elevate GCFS levels. These are growth factor levels that may have the ability to ward off the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, studies demonstrated that the interaction between the mystery ingredient and caffeine resulted in a possible ability to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease in laboratory mice. Individuals would need to consume 4 to 5 cups of coffee per day to see these potential health benefits.

Individuals who drink just 2 or 3 cups of coffee per day may provide themselves with added protection from Parkinson’s disease. Later studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed a correlation between coffee consumption and decreased incidence of Parkinson’s disease by as much as 25 percent.

Pro: Protects Against Heart Disease And Stroke

Many individuals mistakenly believe that drinking coffee can have a negative effect on their heart. To date, there have been no documented studies that prove this to be the case. In fact, some current research suggests that consuming moderate amount of coffee each day may actually improve heart health and protect against heart disease and stroke.

According to a 13 year Netherland study, one of the largest studies examining the effects of coffee on the heart to date, evidence showed that individuals who consumed coffee every day could lower their risk of developing heart disease by as much as 45 percent. The Netherland study showed that individuals who drank between 2 and 4 cups of coffee per day had the greatest level of protection compared to those who drank more or less, with a risk reduction of 20 percent. Consuming more than 4 cups per day but less than 6 showed a slight decrease in risk but not enough to outweigh the risks associated with heavy coffee drinking.

Another study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association showed the same 20 percent protection rate among individuals who drank between 2 and 4 cups per day.

Pro: Lowers Cancer Risk

Coffee has been shown to significantly lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Men who drink coffee every day can decrease their risk of developing prostate cancer. According to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men who drank between 1 and 3 cups of coffee per day could slash their risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 percent. The study showed that men who doubled that amount of coffee could reduce their risk of developing the most dangerous form of prostate cancer by as much as 60 percent.

Pro: High In Antioxidants

Although caffeine is the main ingredient found in coffee, it is also chock full of healthy antioxidants. These powerful compounds are also found in large amounts in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, red wine and chocolate. But according to chemistry professor Joe A. Vinson, Ph.D. at the University of Scranton, coffee is the main source of antioxidants in the U. diet. High levels of antioxidants in the diet are associated with a wealth of health benefits ranging from immunity boosting effects to protection from cancer and other serious diseases.

Con: Can Raise Cholesterol Levels

One negative aspect of coffee is it has been linked to a possible increase in cholesterol levels. The good news is that the increased risk is only present in unfiltered coffee such as espresso and lattes. To avoid the added risk, coffee drinkers need only to use paper coffee filters to capture the 2 substances in coffee, kahweol and cafestol, which are responsible for this risk. There is some evidence that suggests there may be an increased risk of high cholesterol in decaffeinated coffee, but more research needs to be conducted on the subject.

Con: Can Lead To Weight Gain

Individuals attempting to lose weight or maintain their current weight may be discouraged to learn that drinking coffee may cause increased weight gain. It is not the coffee itself that is associated with the weight gain, but is the condiments that individuals add to their coffee that can have the unwanted effects. Sugar is the obvious culprit, while milk and cream make matters even worse.

Con: It’s An Addictive Stimulant

If you are a regular coffee drinker, you likely are aware that it the caffeine in coffee is highly addictive. Coffee is so addictive that even individuals who consume just one cup per day can go through severe withdrawals symptoms if they eliminate their daily cup. When an individual breaks from the stimulant effects of the caffeine in coffee, several withdrawal symptoms can occur, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches (tension and migraine)
  • Jitters
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings

Decaffeinated coffee drinkers can also become addicted to the small amounts of caffeine that are present in decaf varieties. Another factor in coffee’s addictive properties is that caffeine causes the brain to release larger amounts of dopamine into the body. Dopamine is responsible for pleasure and may be the main cause for the coffee buzz so many coffee drinkers experience.

Con: Increases Heart Rate And Elevates Blood Pressure

The stimulants in caffeine cause provide an energy boost and increased alertness to individuals who drink it. Those stimulants also cause an elevated heart rate and a temporary rise in blood pressure. That’s because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which causes a release of adrenaline into the body. Over time, individuals become used to the effect that caffeine has on the body, and they have to drink more coffee to achieve the desired effect. More coffee can result in an even higher heart rate and blood pressure.

Con: Causes Sleep Disturbances

Although the effects of caffeine can be felt almost immediately, those effects are not as quick to disappear. The effects of caffeine linger in the body for an average of 12 hours. This means that in sensitive individuals, drinking a cup of coffee at noon can interfere with their 9 pm bedtime. Even those coffee drinkers who may not be especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine may find that they do not experience restful sleep. Sleep disturbances are common in many people who consume just one cup of coffee per day.

Con: Can Stain Teeth

Over time, coffee drinkers will find that their teeth gradually become stained. The more coffee an individual drinks, the more likely it is that yellow teeth will develop. Other factors that can influence how quickly a coffee drinker’s teeth become stained are:

  • Overall health of the teeth
  • Condition of the enamel on the teeth
  • The amount of acid present in the saliva

Although those conditions vary according to the individual, one thing is certain...if you drink coffee your teeth will eventually become stained.

Bottom Line

Although the health risks of drinking coffee can be significant, the risks only appear to increase as the level of consumption increases. As with most things in life, it appears that moderation is the key if you want to capitalize on the health benefits of coffee.

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