There are mixed signals when it comes to drinking coffee. One study says it could kill you, while the next says it could save your life.

The reason, dietitian Susan Mitchell explains, is because nutritional science is a relatively young field. Rob van Dam, a Harvard University epidemiologist clarifies that  “People would talk interchangeably about coffee and caffeine, but coffee also contains a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids- things we typically see in fruits and vegetables we see in coffee – which is not that surprising considering coffee, comes from, a plant.”
 
So the question remains, 'is coffee a miracle beverage or a poison?' Like most things, coffee needs to taken in moderation. Below outlines the breakdown on what coffee does and does not aid in: 

Type 2-Diabetes

Over 35 studies have published the benefits of coffee in relation to Type 2 Diabetes. "The vast majority of those studies have shown a benefit of coffee on the prevention of diabetes. And now there is also evidence that decaffeinated coffee may have the same benefit as regular coffee,” says Frank Hu, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Nutrition. Of more than 193,000 people, in nine studies, those who reported drinking more than six cups daily were 35% less likely to have Type 2 Diabetes, compared to people who drank less than two cups daily. Of those who drank the more realistic 4-6 cups daily there was a 28% lower risk for coffee drinkers. Coffee contains strong antioxidant capacity and mineral content- such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body regulate hormone insulin. Hu states, “It’s the whole package.”

Caffeine

Regular coffee contains caffeine, which raises blood pressure and blood levels of the fight-or-flight chemical epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). A little bit can wake you up but too much can mean heart palpitations, sleeplessness, agitation and shaky hands – not a good side effect.

Heart Disease & Stroke

Coffee might counter heart disease and stroke. Aside from helping fight Type 2 Diabetes (which makes heart disease more likely), coffee has been linked to lower risk of heart rhythm aberrations (which make heart attack more likely) and lower risk of stroke in women. In a 2009 study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in a long-term study where those who drank more than 2 cups of coffee daily displayed a 20% lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not. However, drinking more than 6 cups could cause serious risks for heart problems. Additionally, unfiltered coffee like Turkish coffee, or that made with a French press, is not good for you. Unfiltered coffee includes cafestol, which increases cholesterol levels. Drinking it once in a while is ok, but frequently can raise your cholesterol and your chances of heart disease.

Parkinson’s

Regarding Parkinson’s disease the data has been consistent. The higher consumption of coffee, the decreased risk for Parkinson’s, though that might be due in part to the amount of caffeine consumption. 

Dementia

Coffee is linked to a lower risk of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. A 2009 twenty-year study from Finland and Sweden indicated that from a pool of 1,400 people those who drank 3-5 cups of coffee were 65% less likely to develop dementia than their non-coffee drinking neighbors.

Cancer

Studies have indicated a positive link between coffee drinkers and a decrease in liver cancer. “All of the studies have shown that high coffee consumption is associated with decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer,” Hu says. But again, scientists aren’t clear on the exact cause and effect

Pregnancy

August 2010 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that coffee intake of about 12 ounces per day doesn’t seem to have any major effect on miscarriage, premature delivery, or fetal growth. However, while the effects of larger doses of caffeine are unknown, other research has indicated that women who drink multiple cups of coffee could be at greater risk for miscarriage.

Rob van Dam explains that “because the fetus can’t metabolize caffeine very well, they don’t have the ability to dissolve it from the blood stream,” which in turn means not much nutrition is being sent.

Heartburn

Coffee exacerbates heartburn.

Calories and Weight loss

As long as you keep to coffee and skip the cream, your 6 ounce cup of coffee is only 7 calories, a fine addition to your daily diet. However, once you start adding half & half, nondairy creamer and sugar, the calories begin to rack up fast. Yet coffee is a mild diuretic meaning more trips to the bathroom for you, helping to regulate water weight. Be careful though: too much coffee can be dehydrating.
 
So when it comes to what is best for you the answer is: unless you’re drinking more than six cups, do what works for you. If you don’t like coffee the evidence isn’t clear enough to support coffee as a life-saving beverage, but it certainly won’t do you any serious harm either.

Featured Image: italiangoodnews.com 
Image Courtesy of geniusbeauty.com

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