Time for another break from the prevailing COVID-19-related news. Today, we’ll review a couple of study reports dealing with new discoveries about (almost) everyone’s favourite hot beverage: Coffee. The catch is, there’s both good news and bad news for Java lovers. We’ll start with the happy stuff…
People around the world, on all continents, drink Coffee every day.
Any news about Coffee consumption and health is a big deal.
Coffee consumption may support weight loss
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK wanted to see whether there was any correlation between Coffee consumption and weight loss.
They number-crunched data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, organised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, to determine the relationship between the number of cups of Coffee consumed per day and drinkers’ overall body fat and trunk, or ‘belly’ fat.
They found that women aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had the lowest levels of belly fat, 3.4 percent lower than people who did not consume coffee. Among women aged between 45-69, those who drank four or more cups had an belly fat percentage 4.1 percent lower.
In men, the relationship was less significant, although men aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups per day had 1.3 percent less total fat and 1.8 percent less belly fat than those who did not consume coffee.
Study report Lead Author Dr. Lee Smith: “Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight and which could potentially be used as anti-obesity compounds. It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients, could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic.”
Now, the bad news…
A team at the University of South Australia (UniSA) has found a link between certain genetic predispositions and ill effects from drinking Coffee.
The Data-mining study looked at information from over 300,000 participants in the UK Biobank. Researchers examined connections between genetically instrumented habitual coffee consumption and a full range of diseases.
“Excess coffee consumption can lead to increased risks of certain diseases,” UniSA Dr. Elina Hyppönen says.
Six 6 cups of Coffee per day was used by Hyppönen’s team as an upper limit for safe consumption, but some folks drink much more Coffee than that.
“Reassuringly, our results suggest that, moderate coffee drinking is mostly safe,” Hyppönen notes. “But [they] also showed that habitual coffee consumption increased the risks of three diseases: osteoarthritis, arthropathy and obesity, which can cause significant pain and suffering for individuals with these conditions.”
Around 7 million tons of coffee is consumed globally every year, the ARU study report states.
“Globally, we drink around three billion cups of Coffee each day, so it makes sense to explore the pros and cons of this on our health,” Hyppönen notes.
I agree strongly with Hyppönen. Any news about Coffee consumption and health is a big deal. But I also wonder where to draw a line for safe Coffee consumption. Previous studies we’ve looked at in this space have yielded mixed results. But those studies all agreed that moderate Coffee consumption could help fight obesity and some cancers. Still others claim to have revealed a link between Coffee and increased longevity.
The crux of those studies, and possibly of the ARU and UniSA studies as well, could be the oft-noted flavonoids, substances found in abundance in Coffee and other foods. These compounds are known to help reduce systemic inflammation, which exacerbates many nasty conditions including heart disease and bowel disorders. Reserarch to date appears, to me, to have generated more questions about Coffee consumption that it has answered.
Considering that folks around the world, on all continents, drink 3 billion cups of the stuff every day, more research is clearly required to put all the doubts and controversies surrounding Coffee and health to rest.
~ Maggie J.