In a new observational study involving close to 20,000 individuals, people who consumed at least four cups of coffee daily had a 64% lower risk of early death compared to those never or rarely consumed coffee. The reduction in risk was more significant once people reached the age of 45, suggesting that it may be even more beneficial to consume coffee as we get older. These findings echo the recent results of another large observational study, which found that coffee drinkers appear to live longer, regardless of whether they consume regular or decaf coffee.
Coffee is loaded with antioxidants. Many are naturally occurring, while others are created during the roasting process. It's these compounds that science links with positive effects in reducing the risk of several diseases. Some of the compounds commonly found in coffee "have been related to better insulin sensitivity, liver function and reduced chronic inflammation," said an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the lead author of one of the recent studies on coffee consumption and longevity.
“While coffee consumption may appear to be healthful for many, others should proceed with caution. Pregnant women, for example, should cautiously limit their intake of caffeinated coffee. If you have any heart conditions, you should also limit your coffee and caffeine consumption. One to two cups daily is probably fine, but if you are sensitive, you should restrict all caffeine."
Before you take your next sip of coffee, heed these tips:
- Add low-fat milk and skip the cream. Cream contributes about 50 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Low-fat milk has fewer calories and will help to offset calcium losses (a tablespoon has only 6 calories, but 19 milligrams of calcium).
- Avoid sugar in your coffee. A teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories. It may not sound like much, but if you add two teaspoons to your brew and drink a few cups per day, the calories add up.
- Choose filtered coffee if you have high cholesterol. Unfiltered coffee, like the kind made from a French press, retains compounds known as cafestol and kahweol, which may contribute to increased cholesterol levels in some people.
- If you have trouble falling asleep, it's best to avoid coffee and all sources of caffeine in the evening or close to bedtime.