Some patients asked recently whether coffee was good for one’s health. They had apparently noticed that there has been the shift in marketing strategy by coffee-makers in promoting it as a rich source of anti-oxidants, and therefore beneficial to health.
YES, coffee is a rich source of anti-oxidants, like chlorogenic acid and melanoidins, the latter being the most important component of roasted coffee. Some of the other beneficial effect of drinking coffee include:
- Reducing the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. Read “A Cup of Coffee a Day will Keep Alzheimer’s Away”.
- Protecting against diabetes. Moderate consumption may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in younger and middle aged women.
- Preventing liver disease and the formation of liver and kidney stones.
- The beneficial effects of caffeine in coffee on alertness, attentiveness, and wakefulness.
NO, among other things:
- Unfiltered coffee (as in Turkish coffee and kahawa) raises blood cholesterol. Filtered coffee, as in instant coffee, does not do so as diterpenes, responsible for raising cholesterol, are removed by filtration.
- Coffee consumption is also associated with an increase of plasma homocysteine, a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
- Caffeine in coffee can increase the risk of elevated blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, as well as palpitations.
- 4 cups or more will hasten osteoporosis, especially in those with low calcium intake in the diet.
- Coffee increases heartburn, aka gastro-eosophageal reflux disease (GERD).
What about heart disease? The verdict’s not in just yet..on one hand, diterpenes cause a rise in cholesterol and homocysteine but this seems balanced by the beneficial anti-oxidant properties. As of now, there is no convincing evidence that coffee leads to heart disease, period.
I ought to clarify here that we are talking about coffee, just plain coffee. The pendulum swings the other way when we consume coffee with additives, like milk and sugar. The latte at the local Starbucks will add on quite a substantial amount of fats, sugars and calories (260 to be precise, see here). Compare that to the ZERO calories of plain black coffee!
- Well: This Is Your Brain on Coffee (well.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Pros and Cons of Coffee (restaurantequipmenttogo.com)