It’s no surprise for those of us paying attention that there are many studies demonstrating health benefits from the so called “superfoods”. Foods like Goji or Acai berries have been repeatedly studied and linked to everything from cancer to parkinson’s disease. A slew of studies have shown that these foods can help prevent basically everything bad in our lives, but rarely are these studies peer-reviewed and can hold up under the scrutiny of multiple independent clinical trial.
Several studies, however, have not only shown coffee to be the ultimate superfood, but unlike many of these other studies, these represent some of the largest health studies in history. A new study further confirms the original findings of a well known Harvard School of Public Health study, following hundreds of thousands of patients over more than 30 years. A slew of studies have found that moderate coffee consumption actually reduces your risk of arterial blockage.
Coffee’s Impact – Heart Disease
A recent study from Korea, in the journal Heart indicated that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee produced less calcium build up in the person’s cardiovascular system. The headlines immediately ran with this story, indicating that “coffee will prevent heart attacks”. The study did not account for the significantly improved overall health in the Korea, due to their certain beneficial diet habits. They have significantly lower obesity levels on average than many Western countries, and as a result, the study may not actually indicate what it seems. A few other studies have shown that coffee can raise blood pressure, and cholesterol. This particularly benefit warrants some increased due diligence to confirm with new research.
The biggest clinical trial of coffee in history was a Harvard study that concluded in 2011, which followed roughly 500,000 participants and correlated coffee to a variety of risk factors and benefits. Mortality in the study did not improve with stastical significance, but it also did not drop as well. This indicates that, at best, the research so far is muddy on any longevity benefits for regular coffee consumption.
Reducing the Risk of Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association has done a lot of research on the health benefits, if any, for diabetics in regular coffee consumption. They found within the last year what they have termed “strong evidence” that coffee significantly reduces the risk of diabetes. This was primarily the result of that same Harvard study, which showed in both men and women risk of Type 2 diabetes was cut by 33% with at least 6 cups of coffee per day. However, it was not the caffeine that benefited drinkers apparently, as both caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties had similar effects. This suggests some other substances in the coffee itself was lending this health benefit.
Selecting Among the Various Types of Coffee
The are various types of coffee, including the types of roast, as well as the types of beans themselves. Arabica beans are the most common ones available. Typically, the studies have found the darker, and stronger the coffee, the better. This helps to prevent damage to the person’s stomach lining due to the acidic qualities of coffee by drinking large amounts of it. The Harvard study noted above found that coffee contains a particular substance called “cafestol”, which is a potent stimulator of our bodies cholesterol levels. Coffee made through espresso machines or caffetieres contains this protein, however, those made from traditional drip brewing is strained out. It’s advised for those worried about cholesterol levels to strain their coffee they drink as a result.
Coffee offers a lot of benefits, though calling it a “superfood” may be something that can only be validly stated after more research. Compared to the other famous “superfoods” being written about, the data for coffee having significant health benfits is much greater. There are dozens of studies that have looked at a variety of health benefits for coffee so far, and particularly raw, unroasted coffees appear to offer significant benefits. It’s clear that regular coffee drinking, even significant levels of coffee each day, should not be harmful.