Whether you love it or hate it, there is no doubt that coffee has the potential to stimulate more than just your jittery nerves: in fact, this caffeine-packed crop has been promoting widespread discussion among researchers and the medical community as to its potential health benefits…and possible negative effects – yes, coffee has both a light and a dark side – and no, we are not talking about whether or not you put milk in it!
The good – why a cup of ‘Joe’ could be the best thing for all that ails you
In moderation, coffee has been shown to reduce the rate of all-cause mortality in women, with those who drink three cups per day enjoying a lower risk of death than abstainers;
When it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, studies have shown that moderate coffee drinkers were less likely to develop dementia later in life than light drinkers.
As for protecting the liver, coffee has been shown to reduce the incidence of cirrhosis, although the exact details on the amount of coffee required to promote a positive effect as well as the way in which coffee achieves results are still factors which are being researched.
Coffee is a powerful antioxidant, which can help to lower oxidative cell damage in the body – it also contains some anti-carcinogenic compounds which could be linked with its reputation for combatting certain types of cancer.
Overall, there is much evidence to point to the fact that moderate consumption of coffee could bring a myriad of health benefits: it has been linked with lower rates of:
- Oral cancer
- Death from cardiovascular disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Aside from waking you up in the morning, coffee can also help to keep you regular: in fact, if you are suffering from constipation, a cup of ‘Joe’ will aid peristalsis and help to get things moving again.
Last, but not least, although coffee can cause stains on the teeth, some evidence has pointed to the substance having plaque-fighting properties, which could help to combat dental cavities;
With all of these benefits that are coming out about coffee, it is enough to encourage one to head to the supermarket for some beans: but before you do so, it might be a good idea to also have a look at some of the potential negative effects of the substance…
The bad – why coffee could lead to glaucoma, increased cholesterol or even death
Researchers love Scandinavian countries when it comes to determining the effect of coffee on health and wellbeing: four of the top five coffee consuming nations are in Scandinavia, with Sweden just missing out on fifth place after the Netherlands and Finland leading the table, with a staggering 12kg of coffee consumed per capita: to put this into perspective, the UK falls way behind at position 44 in the table, with a comparatively puny 2.8kg;
Researchers have linked this world-beating level of heavily caffeinated coffee consumption with the fact that Scandinavian populations have the highest frequency of exfoliation glaucoma in the world – a study was recently conducted which has shown that those who drank three or more cups of coffee per day were at a much higher risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma;
If you love your coffee and want to look out for your heart, there is some more bad news: Cafestol, a compound which can be found in each and every cup of coffee, from a decaf mocha-latte to a dark espresso, is perhaps, the most active cholesterol-raising substance currently known to science: in fact, studies have shown that those who consume five cups of coffee per day seen their blood cholesterol levels increase by up to 8% in just one month.
Whilst glaucoma and high cholesterol levels are pretty bad in their own right, death is perhaps the worst effect of heavy coffee consumption: whilst we are talking about extreme cases, the fact is that a person who consumes over 50 cups of coffee per day is putting themselves at serious risk of severe illness, which could be potentially fatal: the more potent the coffee, the fewer cups have to be taken to lead to a fatality;
With all of these potential health benefits and disadvantages, the lesson we should all take from this is that common sense must prevail when it comes to this beverage: in moderation and with care, there should be no reason why we all can’t enjoy a cup of coffee.
Dean Trolley is a health blogger who regularly writes articles on issues relating to occupational therapy jobs and healthcare news.