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Friday, July 19, 2013

COFFEE.....Friend or Foe?

There has been a lot of press over the years about the negative effects of drinking coffee. That seems to be changing and new research shows a host of benefits of coffee including coffee consumption offering protection against heart failure and stroke.

Let's take a look:

There are approximately 150 million Americans that drink coffee on a daily basis. NEW studies show that coffee reduces the risk of hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke by improving endothelial function which is the mechanism by which blood vessels retain their control over blood flow and pressure.

That is important since STROKE is among the top three causes of death in America. Drinking 5 or more cups of coffee a day has shown that it can reduce death from stroke by up to 36%. If you do the math with more than 140,000 deaths from stroke every year, 36% of that number might save the lives of some 50,000 people.

Other benefits of drinking coffee:

  • Reduces risk of dying from heat disease
  • Show to help in preventing diabetes
  • Cuts cancer risk
  • Reverses impairment in Alzheimer's patients

A large study which involved 59,000 people conducted over a 19 year period provides evidence of the protective effects of coffee against heart failure. One aspect of this study showed women who consumed even ONE CUP of coffee a day reduced heart failure risk by 27% (vs.) those who drank no coffee at all.

A separated study indicated that 4 cups of coffee a day provides the strongest protection against heart failure in both men and women.

Summary of article that appeared in the August 2013 issue of Life Extension Magazine:

  • Coffee is the most widely consumed pharmacologically active beverage in the world
  • Coffee is NO longer associated with poor health outcomes due to new studies
  • Drinking 5 cups of coffee a day can protect you against many age related diseases
  • Recent studies show coffee's ability to boost endothelial function
  • Coffee has been shown to offer protection against diabetes, which itself is the cause of cardiovascular diseases and cancer
  • Coffee helps protect against cancer and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
  • In short coffee is NOT the culprit if was once thought to be

What about differences between caffeinated and decaffeinated and black (vs.) drinking coffee with cream or milk? Here is a LINK to another report on coffee and it has additional information with more detail and more answers to any concerns over detrimental (vs.) positive effects of drinking coffee:

There are still some pro's and con's on this subject and I am NOT suggesting that everyone go out and start drinking 4 or 5 cups of coffee every day for improved health:



5. Why does it seem like scientists keep flip-flopping on whether coffee is bad for you or good for you?
Often people think of coffee just as a vehicle for caffeine. But it’s actually a very complex beverage with hundreds and hundreds of different compounds in it. Since coffee contains so many different compounds, drinking coffee can lead to very diverse health outcomes. It can be good for some things and bad for some things, and that’s not necessarily flip-flopping or inconsistent. Few foods are good for everything. That’s why we do studies on very specific health effects—for example, studies of how coffee affects the risk of diabetes—but we also conduct studies such as this most recent one looking at coffee consumption and mortality over a long period of time, which better reflects the overall health effect.
Coffee is also a bit more complex to study than some other food items. Drinking coffee often goes along together with cigarette smoking, and with a lifestyle that’s not very health conscious. For example, people who drink lots of coffee tend to exercise less.They are less likely to use dietary supplements, and they tend to have a less healthful diet. So in the early studies on coffee and health, it was hard to separate the effects of coffee from the effects of smoking or other lifestyle choices.
Over the several decades that coffee has been studied, there have been some reports that coffee may increase the risk of certain cancers or the risk of heart disease. But in better conducted studies, such as the one we just published—larger studies that have a lot of information about all other lifestyle factors and make a real effort to control for these lifestyle factors—we do not find many of these health effects that people were afraid of.
6. What is the latest research on the risks of coffee or caffeine during pregnancy?
For pregnant women, there has been quite a bit of controversy over whether high intake of coffee or caffeine may increase the risk of miscarriage. The jury is still out. But we know that the caffeine goes through the placenta and reaches the fetus, and that the fetus is very sensitive to caffeine; it metabolizes it very slowly. So for pregnant women it seems prudent to reduce coffee consumption to a low level, for example one cup a day.
7. Should people with high blood pressure consider reducing their coffee or caffeine intake? What about people with diabetes?
We know that if people are not used to using any caffeine, and they start to use caffeine, their blood pressure goes up substantially. Within a week of caffeine consumption, however,we see that the effect is less pronounced—there is less of an increase in blood pressure. After several weeks of continued caffeine consumption, however, a little bit of increase in blood pressure remains. In studies that look at the incidence of hypertension in the general population, drinking caffeinated coffee is not associated with a substantial increase in risk. But if people have hypertension, and are having a hard time controlling their hypertension,they could try switching from caffeinated coffee to decaffeinated coffee, to see if it has a beneficial effect.
With diabetes, it’s a bit of a paradox. Studies around the world consistently show that high consumption of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee is associated with low risk of type 2 diabetes. But if you look at acute studies that just give people caffeine or caffeinated coffee, and then have them eat something rich in glucose, their sensitivity to insulin drops and their blood glucose levels are higher than expected. There isn’t any long-term data on coffee consumption and glucose control. But if people have diabetes and have trouble controlling their blood glucose,it may be beneficial for them to try switching from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee. Making the switch from caffeinated to decaf may be better than quitting coffee altogether, because some research suggests that decaffeinated coffee actually reduces the glucose response.
8. How do you explain the paradoxical findings on coffee and caffeine consumption and diabetes?
It’s possible that there are simply different effects for short-term and long-term intake of coffee and caffeine.And, as I mentioned before, it’s becoming increasingly clear that coffee is much more than caffeine, and the health effects that you see for caffeinated coffee are often different than what you would expect based on its caffeine content.
For example, if you look at exercise performance, it seems that caffeine can be somewhat beneficial, but caffeinated coffee is not. Or if you look at blood pressure and compare the effects of caffeinated coffee to the effects of caffeine, you’ll find that caffeinated coffee causes blood pressure increases that are substantially weaker than what one would expect for the amount of caffeine it contains. The same is true for the relationship between coffee, caffeine, and blood glucose after a meal. It’s possible that there are compounds in coffee that may counteract the effect of caffeine, but more research needs to be done.
9.  Is drinking coffee made with a paper filter healthier than drinking boiled coffee or other types of coffee?
Coffee contains a substance called cafestol that is a potent stimulator of LDL cholesterol levels. Cafestolis found in the oily fraction of coffee, and when you brew coffee with a paper filter, the cafestol gets left behind in the filter. Other methods of coffee preparation, such as the boiled coffee common in Scandinavian countries, French press coffee, or Turkish coffee, are much higher in cafestol. So for people who have high cholesterol levels or who want to prevent having high cholesterol levels, it is better to choose paper filtered coffee or instant coffee, since they have much lower levels of cafestol than boiled or French press coffee.Espresso is somewhere in the middle; it has less cafestol than boiled or French press coffee, but more than paper filtered coffee.
10. Do tea and coffee have similar beneficial effects?
One could expect some of the beneficial effects of coffee to be similar for tea, since some of the compounds are similar. A study in China has found that drinking large quantities of Oolongtea—a liter a day—is beneficial for glycemic control in people with diabetes.But research on tea in the U.S.has not shown the type of beneficial effect we see for coffee, probably because people in the U.S.tend to drink tea that is weaker in strength and tend to drink less of it.

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