One of the more surprising benefits of coffee has to do with the heart. Although coffee temporarily causes an increase in one's blood pressure, drinking two cups daily can help prevent certain cardiovascular problems, such as heart failure. Caffeine may also help prevent disturbances or irregularities in one's heart rhythm. Additionally, there is also a reduced risk of stroke.
Over the past decade, studies have found a link between coffee consumption and a lower risk of dementia. It’s thought that the drink’s high caffeine content might be responsible for the brain-boosting benefits. One small study of subjects who showed signs of memory problems found that, over a 2- to 4-year period, people with lower blood levels of caffeine were more likely to develop dementia than those with higher levels. (Want to brew up a tastier cup of joe? Consider trying some of these six ways to flavor your coffee without added sugar.)
Long term consumption of coffee has also been shown to reduce, although moderately, the risk of stroke (38). Another study pointed out that drinking about five or six cups of coffee a day is associated with the greatest reduction (39) (36%) in stroke risk, and that coffee also contributes to overall reduction of cardiovascular mortality (a less scary way of saying “heart death”).
Great article. But the Asians have solved this quandary for us. Drink tea. They have been doing this for longer than time itself and the health benefits are never disputed. Plus, recently there has been too many scientific flip-flops like this. I don’t trust any product that was once on a cancer list and now is on a healthy list! I for one won’t change my habits and will designate coffee as a possible carcinogenic. Please also check to make sure the study was not funded by Starbucks.
For the sake of something real journalists call “integrity” I should point out that coffee has also been shown to have a small, yet positive (which isn’t a good thing in this case) relationship with bladder (25) cancer. However, the same study that reported these finding, also reported that this relationship could also be linked to smoking or other dietary habits.
Alternatively, opt for “milks” and creamers made from almond, coconut, cashew, and other plant sources. They can be much lower in calories than traditional creamers; and they're often produced with all-natural ingredients (read: no high-fructose corn syrup) and provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. If you prefer a flavored or sweetened version, check the grams of sugar on the Nutrition Facts panel. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
What I do instead is use either a very small touch of organic maple syrup or a half packet of natural stevia to just lightly sweeten my coffee. I've also become a big fan of coconut sugar recently, and this is healthier than plain sugar because it does contain some minerals and other nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. On the other hand, if you like your coffee black with no sweetener at all, that's the healthiest way.
The fat in coconut milk is mostly in the form of medium chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs)—one in particular is called lauric acid, which your body converts into an antiviral and antibacterial compound that destroys a variety of disease-causing organisms. Aside from boosting your immunity, the MCFAs in coconut milk are rapidly metabolized in your body, which means they’re less likely to be stored as fat. You’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamins C, E and B, antioxidants, magnesium and iron—all of which work toward promoting healthy bones, teeth, brain, kidneys, and heart health.
Cardamom is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, because it helps neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine, but that’s not the only reason to add the spice to your java. A two-tablespoon serving has just 36 calories, is loaded with fiber, essential minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds; research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found cardamom contains compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells and stunt new cancer cell growth. Cardamom has also been known to improve blood circulation in the body, help control cholesterol, cure dental diseases, and infections like gonorrhea. It’s even been said to cure impotency, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.
While they say that the results support moderate coffee drinking as a relatively healthy habit, both Poole and Guallar say the findings don’t go far enough to prompt anyone to change their coffee-drinking habits in the hopes of improving their health. The study did not confirm, for example, that people who do not currently drink coffee should start adding a cup or two a day in order to lower their risk of getting heart disease or any of the other chronic conditions studied. The data also do not support the idea that current coffee drinkers should drink even more coffee to enhance whatever benefits they might be receiving. Too much coffee, the data suggest, starts to bend the benefit curve back down.