Does Daily Coffee Drinking Really Increase Longevity?
For most of us who work and/or have a social life, our lives run on caffeine. We need a cup of coffee just to get going in the morning, and maybe another one when we get to the office, one after lunch, and one on the way home. Until now, our collective coffee addiction was sort of seen as a necessary evil, an unfortunate addiction to a drug we all secretly need more and more of. I know I do.
But as it turns out, our addiction may not be so unfortunate after all. A new study has found a possible association between drinking coffee and increased longevity. That is excellent news for dedicated coffee drinkers.
Specifically, drinking coffee can increase longevity by about 15%, by reducing the risk of stroke and of Type 2 diabetes.
Walter Willett, co-author of the study and a nutrition researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, said:
“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee.”
Three to five cups sounds like a lot of coffee to drink per day. Aren’t there other health factors to be concerned with when you’re drinking that much?
According to the study, yes. Drinking too much coffee can cause jitters, insomnia, and feelings of unease. Because everybody reacts to caffeine differently, and because “one cup of coffee” can potentially contain very different amounts of caffeine, the authors of the study don’t advise coffee as a supplement. Instead, they have simply redefined a coffee-drinking habit as a potentially beneficial part of the diet of a person who already drinks it. In other words, if you drink a lot of coffee, you can officially stop feeling guilty about it (if you ever actually did).
Now obviously, “coffee” doesn’t mean Gingerbread Lattes or other sugary drinks. Rather, the coffee bean itself contains lignans, quinides, magnesium, and other nutrients and phytochemicals that can help reduce insulin resistance and cut down on inflammation. Of course, these benefits may be somewhat offset if you always load up your coffee with lots of cream and sugar, or if you constantly go for a drink with several pumps of syrup.
However, the good news is that the health benefits seem to be the same for decaf and regular coffee, so if you find yourself having the jitters and so are reluctant to have that second cup, go for decaf. You’ll get that coffee-flavor fix, and maybe some health benefits down the road.
Even though the study primarily focused on white, mostly middle-class, educated people, the authors of the study looked at specific causes of death (like suicide, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurologic diseases like Parkinson’s) on a strictly biological level. So the results should be the same regardless of race or economic status, because “we basically have a common biology.”
So let’s celebrate over a cup of coffee.