Coffee has long been debated about whether or not it’s healthy, particularly since most of us drink it on a daily basis. While some reports have linked it to heart disease and cancer, recent developments are showing that coffee, indeed, is good for your health — or at least the benefits outweigh the risks.
So why the reversal? Well, one explanation, is that previous studies failed to consider that high risk behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, or physical inactivity were likely to be more common among coffee drinkers, and those factors could have resulted in the negative beliefs about coffee consumption.
Most studies are now finding an association between coffee consumption and decreased mortality, in particular, reduced cardiovascular mortality. Other studies have shown that coffee is linked with reducing the occurrences of Parkinson’s disease, type II diabetes, breast cancer, and liver disease, while increasing cognitive function and decreasing depression.
Doctors at the Harvard School of Nutrition say coffee works at minimizing depression not only for its caffeine content, but also by controlling inflammation in the brain through its high number of anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which are also found in fruits and vegetables. By reducing the amount of inflammation, the brain can then produce more serotonin, also known as the “feel good” chemical, which is found in antidepressant medications.
However, doctors say not all coffee is the same, and to look for brands with high amounts of polyphenols. Also, if you’re looking for a healthier way to drink coffee, the suggested daily recommendation is 1-2 cups, so anything over may end up being detrimental, especially if your body doesn’t metabolize it as quickly. Over consumption of coffee can also be linked to increased cholesterol levels and heart disease, so it’s important to drink it in moderation. It’s also suggested to consume more mild blends, as opposed to stronger brews like espresso. And finally, the less sweets you add to your cup o’ Joe, the better. Some sweetened coffee drinks can contain up to 500 calories!