Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee.  I've generally found that people either love it or hate it.  For some reason, this bitter brew evokes strong emotions in some; usually more in the "I love coffee" realm than the other.  Of course that's obvious by the abundance of coffee shops that litter the streets of most major cities and a smattering of them in the smaller towns.
 Our very small town/village has a locally owned one that my husband managed and I worked at for 6 years.  We really grew to love and appreciate the rich depths of flavor coffee has and also did some research on its possible benefits.

Benefits?  That's right.  Coffee does have some health perks that go along with it despite a lot of negative press in the past.  More recent studies have shown that coffee can be helpful to your body.

Should everyone drink it?  The purpose of this post is not to make you a coffee drinker as most people don't have to be "made" to love coffee.  It just happens.  Once it starts, coffee is not only a satisfying drink, but one that may just deliver a few helpful benefits as well.  So if you already drink it or are just plain curious, here are a few things I learned...


It is important to note that most studies mostly show an association of coffee drinkers with these health benefits.  They aren't direct "cause and effect studies" which show a direct correlation between coffee and the coffee drinker as other factors could affect the outcome of the study.

However, coffee has been with us now since before the 14th century when the Arabs learned how to cultivate and successfully trade the beans. That's a LONG time of usage and it helps to give us some insight into any long term effects of coffee even though most studies will say they "they still don't know the long term impact that coffee has on our health."  

Caffeine is coffee's most obvious draw.  That's a bit obvious.  However, coffee has some other benefits besides caffeine that is now showing up in studies being done on coffee's decaf version.

Compared to non coffee drinkers:

"A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are:

  • less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and dementia
  • have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes."

"The vast majority of those studies have shown a benefit of coffee on the prevention of diabetes. And now there is also evidence that decaffeinated coffee may have the same benefit as regular coffee,  says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. 2
"Hu calls the data on coffee and type 2 diabetes "pretty solid," based on more than 15 published studies." 3
How could coffee help keep type 2 diabetes at bay?  It seems like it's a combination of its antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium and calcium which help the body use insulin which in turn regulates blood sugar.  

                                          Heart disease and stroke? 

 Well, when you lower the risk of diabetes, you automatically lower your heart risk...there's one way it helps.  

                                 "And, for women, coffee may mean a lower risk of stroke.
In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses' Health Study showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes." 4


 According to a study done on clinical mice, coffee was shown to help boost the levels of GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor), a growth factor that was shown to help fight off Alzheimer's Disease. 5

                                                                  Certain Cancers?

"A Harvard School of Public Health study shows that men who drink six cups of coffee a day have a 60 percent decreased chance of developing a dangerous form of prostate cancer, as well as a 20 percent decreased chance of developing any other kinds of prostate cancer." 6

"New research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research conference shows that coffee could help to ward off basal cell carcinoma, (skin cancer) the most common cancer in the world." 7

These recent studies are sure to encourage coffee drinkers everywhere and make us sigh with a bit of relief when indulging in a cup of our favorite dark roast.  

1. Just remember, these results are conducted on plain coffee cream, sugar or syrups.  Not that you can't still achieve some health benefits with them but to remember to go easy on the additives if you plan on getting the best results. 

2. Also, if you have any sensitivities to caffeine in the coffee, try decaf instead. 

3. Keep your coffee consumption reasonable and moderate.  Four to seven cups are considered heavy usage (this can depend on your body size) and can lead to negative effects like sleeplessness, anxiety and irritability as well as other slight health risk factors.8  Listen to your body, it has its way of telling you when enough is enough.

So put on a big smile when you enter your next Starbucks or coffee house and know that a simple cup of coffee will not only make you a little more wide awake, but can help your body out just a bit too...


Are you more of a tea drinker?  Read this post The Health Benefits of Tea.


2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid.

Linked to these amazing blog parties: Waste Not, Want Not Wednesdays
Wildcrafting Wednesday Seasonal Celebration Wednesday
The Country Homemaker Hop Natural Living Link-Up
Simple Lives Thursday Homestead Barn Hop
Natural Living Monday The Backyard Farming Connection


  1. I always love posts on the benefits of coffee. It is such a divided issue, but I do enjoy coffee and am happy to hear of the health benefits associated with it. I do add a little soy or almond milk and sugar to mine, but I try to keep it to a minimum. And I never drink more than 1 cup a day, so it's safe to say that I'm a pretty light coffee drinker!

    1. Thanks Tammy. It is a divided issue and I actually can't drink regular coffee because of the caffeine but I do love decaf. I think it's listening to your body and seeing what you can handle. One cup a day is certainly a light coffee drinker and a little cream/sugar won't hurt either! :)

  2. I knew this post was for me when I saw the title! I had read an article a while back about the good things in coffee but you have mentioned different positives which was interesting. I think it's just the junk they add to it that gives it a bad name. We do the heavy cream and raw honey in ours and limit to 1 cup a day and 2 on the weekends.

    1. I think so too. I believe we hear more about the over/misuse of coffee and that's where the bad press comes in on it. Thanks for your comment! :)

  3. Great post, Nancy! I love a little shot of Turkish coffee or espresso and don't think it hurts me much, but I do try to avoid Starbuck's sugary drinks! While the coffee might not be so bad for you, all the flavoured syrups can't be good for you ;)

    1. Thanks so much! Coffee has been a part of many cultures for so long that it's health benefits have been a bit does have some health benefits to offer!! :)

  4. Hi Nancy,
    I love coffee but it gives me heartburn :( Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

    1. Oh...that's a bummer. It's true not everything agrees with everyone...thanks so much for hosting!!

  5. Hello there! This post could not be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

    Hydrolyzed Whey

  6. He continually kept preaching about this. I'll send this information to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

    Best Intra

  7. Coffee has an instant benefit. It makes you love waking up in the morning :)

  8. The fat loss effect of coffee drinking hasn’t been studied extensively, but one study showed drinking 500 ml of coffee daily for 4 weeks produced 2.5 kg weight loss in overweight subjects.

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