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The Nutrition Source
- 54% of American adults drink coffee every day, with an average of about 3 cups per day.
- It’s considered safe to drink up to six cups of coffee per day. In fact, research suggests that drinking coffee may reduce some disease risks.
- Some people may want to consider avoiding coffee or switching to decaf, especially women who are pregnant, or people who have a hard time controlling their blood pressure or blood sugar.
- It’s best to brew coffee with a paper filter to remove a substance that causes an increase in LDL cholesterol.
Four noted benefits of coffee:
1. Possible reduction in heart disease and stroke risk
Studies suggest that drinking coffee regularly decreases risk of heart disease or stroke.
- The Nurses health Study of 83,076 women showed that regular coffee consumption was associated with a modest reduction in stroke risk. (17)
- Another study of 37,514 participants concluded that moderate coffee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. (18)
2. Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Research shows that caffeine raises blood sugar in the short term, but the antioxidants in coffee <<link to antioxidant article>> may improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes over many years (3-5).
- A study of over 125,000 participants tracked coffee consumption and new cases of type 2 diabetes for 18 years. This study showed that women who drink more than six cups of coffee per day reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by almost 30 percent. (19)
- Decaffeinated coffee was also beneficial in reducing type 2 diabetes risk, but the benefit was less pronounced. (20)
- A study of 74,749 women analyzed the intake of caffeinated and caffeine-free beverages with respect to the development of type 2 diabetes. The study showed that caffeinated coffee reduced type 2 diabetes risk by 4% and decaffeinated reduced the risk by 7%. This suggests that a component of coffee independent of caffeine, perhaps antioxidants found in both regular coffee and decaf, is responsible for the decrease in type 2 diabetes risk. (19)
3. Protects against gallstones
Caffeinated coffee may prevent the formation of gallstones. (21), (22)
- A study of 46,008 men tracked their development of gallstone and their coffee consumption for 10 years. After adjusting for other factors known to cause gallstones, the study concluded that men who consistently drank coffee were significantly less likely to develop gallstones compared to men who did not. (21)
- A similar large study found the same result in women. (22)
4. Lower risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease
The results of recent studies suggest that coffee consumed in moderate quantities may reduce the risk for developing Parkinson’s Disease. (23,24)
- A study tracked coffee consumption and Parkinson’s Disease development of 6,710 men and women over 22 years. In that time, after adjusting for known risks of Parkinson’s Disease, coffee drinkers had a significantly lower risk of developing the disease than non-drinkers. (23)
Hidden calories in coffee drinks
A plain “black” cup of coffee is a very low calorie drink – 8 oz only contains 2 calories! However, adding sugar, cream, and milk can quickly bump up the calorie counts. A tablespoon of cream contains 52 calories, and a tablespoon of whole milk contains 9 calories. While 9 calories isn’t a lot, milk is often poured into coffee without measuring, so you may be getting several servings of milk or cream in your coffee. A tablespoon of sugar contains 48 calories, so if you take your coffee with cream and sugar, you’re adding over 100 extra calories to your daily cup. It’s important to be aware of and account for these calories as part of your daily eats, or consider going with skim milk in your coffee (only 5 calories per tablespoon).
The real caloric danger occurs in specialty mochas, lattes, or blended icy coffee drinks. These drinks are often super-sized and can contain anywhere from 200-500 calories, as well as an extremely large amount of sugar. With these drinks, it’s best to enjoy them as a treat or dessert, and stick with plain, minimally sweetened coffee on a regular basis.