After making myself a great cup of coffee (decaf, because I am writing this after 14h00), I am back to continue my coffee love story. For me, my love of coffee started as soon as my parents allowed me to drink from its dark roasted beans somewhere in my teenage years. I have been a cautious supported of my bean love ever since but after looking at the research I am now simply a proper coffee advocate.
Most coffee consumers have access to mainly two types of coffee beans; Arabica and Robusta. Although the Robusta plant is a stronger plant, the beans contain much more caffeine than Arabica beans and Arabica beans have a wider flavour range. For this reason most coffee snobs, like me, prefer Arabica beans for the most part . Although I am now a coffee advocate, I still have to pay mindful attention to the possible risks posed by this lovely beverage and continue to consider whether there are detrimental effects to regular coffee consumption. So, let’s consider a bit more detail into the research papers that I have reviewed.
A research paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that the available evidence on regular consumption of coffee is reassuring for the most part and that coffee can safely form part of a healthy diet for most people, even in individuals with cardiovascular disease . According to Buscemi et al. (2016:5) research suggest that it may be the polyphenols and antioxidant compounds in coffee that are now being found to counter the detrimental effects that were reported in earlier studies into coffee consumption. If however you are an “at risk individual”, make sure to read the research yourself and check with your Doctor before making any drastic changes.
Coffee is where most of us get our caffeine intake from but coffee also contains thousands of other compounds that may come with their own benefits. These compounds include vitamins, minerals, alkaloids, phenolic compounds and lipids . Coffee is the highest source of antioxidants in modern diets such as those followed in countries such as the United States, Spain, Italy and Norway . The main compound in coffee containing antioxidants is called Chlorogenic acid and studies show that the degree of roasting coffee beans affects the amount of antioxidants in the coffee. A medium roast was measured to contain the most antioxidants . The health benefits of antioxidants are due to its ability to protect against cellular damage which prevents heart disease and cancer .
Based on research into coffee, that seems to be becoming more frequent lately; regular coffee consumption is associated with longevity (living longer) and a reduced risk of conditions such as cancer and all-cause mortality (mortality meaning sickness) . Many studies show that drinking coffee can prevent various chronic diseases  such as the development of type 2 Diabetes , Alzheimer’s disease  and Parkinson’s disease  It also reduces the risk of stroke , liver damage in high risk liver disease patients , hypertension (high blood pressure)  and other conditions like obesity and depression which are associated with cardiovascular risk . According to Bae et al. (2014:191) “the relative risk of suicide was decreased by 13% for every cup of coffee consumed daily”. Coffee was even shown to improve long duration endurance activities and consuming coffee increases the effect of pain killers . Coffee also has an anti-inflammatory , blood sugar and weight control effect . There are reports of improved glucose metabolism and blood sugar control .
The safe daily intake to achieve these benefits seem to be at least 2-3 cups of coffee  whereas 3- 6 cups of coffee per day were associated with most of the benefits noted . Studies confirmed that some of these benefits are also true for decaffeinated coffee . These studies were based on filtered and boiled coffee consumption and definitely not on instant coffee.
As with all things in life; too much of a good thing is not necessarily good. Caffeine remains the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world and most certainly has an effect on our biology due to its antagonism of the adenosine receptor (which is why we feel awake when consuming caffeine) . More than 6 cups of coffee may cause an overdose of caffeine  that was shown to cause detrimental effects. Children and Pregnant or breastfeeding women should for instance be avoiding caffeine consumption altogether due to the risk of spontaneous abortion, impaired fetal growth and altered behaviour in children . Patay, Benscsik and Papp (2016:1131) indicate that consuming more than 7 cups of coffee per day together with alcohol and cigarette smoking may increase suicidal tendencies due to its aromatic substances increasing gastric secretion . Overdosing with caffeine can cause symptoms like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, intestinal distress, nervousness, stomach ulcers, pancreatic cancer and sleep disturbance . So for your own sake, don’t overdo it.
People sensitive for high cholesterol should consider filtering their coffee through a paper filter to remove the cafestol and kahwoel (oils) which are the main cholesterol raising compounds in coffee. According to Bae et al. (2014:190) “the consumption of filtered coffee results in very little increase in serum cholesterol” .
The message on healthy living is coming through clearly in the research. And this is, that balance is key. We should feed our bodies with what makes us better, stronger and smarter; but we should not overdo things.
Balance is key.
- Bae, J., Park, J., Im, S. and Song, D. 2014. Coffee and health. Integrative Medicine Research Journal. 3(2014): 189-191. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213422014000456. Date of access: 23 May 2018.
- Buscemi, S., Marventano, S., Antoci, M., Cagnetti, A., Castorina, G., Galvano, F., Marrazano, M. and Mistretta, A. 2016. Coffee and metabolic impairment: An updated review of epidemiological studies. NSF Journal. 3(2016): 1-7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235236461530050X. Date of access: 23 May 2018.
- Fischer, E.F. and Victor, B. 2014. High-End Coffee and Smallholding Growers in Guatemala. Latin American Research Review. 49(1): 155-177. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2220836. Date of access: 23 May 2018.
- O’Keefe, J.H., Bhatti, S.K., Patil, H.R., DiNicolantonio, J.J., Lucan, S.C. and Lavie, C.J. 2013. Effects of Habitual Coffee Consumption on Cardiometabolic Disease, Cardiovascular Health, and All-Cause Mortality. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 62(12): 1043-1051. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23871889. Date of access: 23 May 2018.
- Patay, E.B., Benscsik, T. and Papp, N. 2016. Phytochemical overview and medicinal importance of Coffea species from the past until now. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. 9(12): 1127-1135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27955739. Date of access: 23 May 2018.
- Seth, S. Brito, R., Mukherjea, D., Rybak, L.P. and Ramkumar, V. 2014. Adenosine Recemptors: Expression, Function and Regulation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 15(2): 2024-2052. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958836/ Date of access: 28 June 2018.