Health Benefits and Risks of Coffee

Health benefits and risks of seniors drinking coffee 08/18/2014

Most Americans love their coffee.  83% of us drink it every day.  According to the National Coffee Association, the average American coffee drinker chugs down three cups a day.  However, the conflicting reports we hear about the health benefits and risks of coffee leave most of us wondering what to believe.  Some say avoid it all together while other reports tout the health benefits it provides.

How do you know what you can believe about your morning cup o’ joe?

Research on Health Effects of Coffee and Caffeine

There are a wide variety of reports and surveys floating around out there.  We narrowed our findings down to those linked to the most credible health organizations, including the Mayo Clinic and a study published in the Journal of Vascular Medicine.  Here is what we found:

  • Older adults with heart disease can increase their risk for problems if they consume too much caffeine. The greatest risk between heart disease and coffee consumption occurs if you have a gene mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in your body. Experts from Mayo Clinic warn that this gene mutation is a common one. 
  • If you struggle with cholesterol, consuming large amounts of unfiltered coffee can moderately increase your bad cholesterol.
  • Large amounts of coffee are often linked to insomnia, sleep problems, anxiety and agitation. All of these conditions are known to contribute to hypertension.
  • If you have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative disorders, studies seem to indicate that coffee can decrease your risk for developing one. Coffee may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by as much as 60%. It has also been linked to decreased risks of Parkinson’s – some say by as much as 32% to 60%. 
  • More recent studies indicate the high antioxidant levels in coffee can help protect you from type 2 Diabetes and liver cancer. 
  • Because caffeine is a stimulant, people who are trying to increase their physical activity levels or working to lose weight might benefit from drinking coffee. 
  • A final word of caution is to be careful of what you add to your coffee. Artificial sweeteners are being increasingly linked to a variety of cancers. Flavored creamers are usually high in fat and sugar.

So what is the bottom line on health benefits and risks of coffee?

If you have heart related health problems, talk with your physician.  For everyone else, as with most things in life, experts say moderation is the key.  Two cups of coffee per day is believed to be the maximum for health benefits and positive effects of coffee.