Researchers at Harvard University studied the relationship between the consumption of coffee and mortality and found that there was no significant increase in death rates in the coffee drinkers they tracked over 18-24 years. One qualifier that must be added here is that certain elements of the subjects’ lifestyles – excessive consumption of alcohol and smoking and a lack of exercise – have a much greater impact on mortality than does drinking coffee.
The research has shown that drinking up to 6 regular-sized cups of coffee per day did not seriously impact people’s general health, with the exception of pregnant women.
While the jury is still out on the effects of caffeine on pregnant women, research has shown that there may be an increased risk of miscarriage for those drinking lots of caffeinated coffee each day. Since the fetus gets the caffeine directly through the placenta and metabolizes it very slowly, it is prudent for women to significantly reduce their daily consumption of coffee.
The research was based on either black coffee or one with a little sugar and/or milk in it and not on the calorific coffee beverages that are now popular. A Starbuck’s 24-ounce mocha Frappachino with whipped cream contains nearly 500 calories. So, if you have one or more of these every day, there is a great likelihood that over time you will put on weight, and without a significant increase in daily exercise this could lead to an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The research did not implicate coffee made in the popular capsule espresso machines, particularly if the coffee does not have added sugar or cream.
Other findings included:
People having trouble controlling their blood sugar or blood pressure may need to switch to decaf or avoid coffee all together.
Brewing coffee through a paper filter will remove the substance linked to an increase in LDL cholesterol.
In summary, while coffee drinkers did not have increased mortality rates, the suggestion that coffee may actually have health benefits requires further research.
We can, however, rest assured that coffee drinking is no longer considered to be in the same league of unhealthy habits as smoking and drinking too much alcohol. This research has found that focusing on other elements of your lifestyle, such as consuming more whole grain foods, reducing or stopping smoking and increasing physical exercise are much better ways to improving your general health and life span.