Drink Coffee for a Longer Life?

May 30, 2012

Can coffee let us live longer? A recent study found that coffee drinkers reduced their risk of death by a significant amount

Analysis of a large prospective study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, of more than 400,000 older people found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of death over a 13-year period by 12 percent, while women's risk dropped by 16 percent. Is coffee the cure-all? Well, not so fast!

Research on the long-term effects of coffee on disease has come to opposing conclusions and the new findings should be interpreted with caution. Coffee habits were only measured at one point in time, and it's unclear what components of your brew could be tied to a longer life.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health in Rockville, Maryland used data from a diet and health study, given to adults age 50 to 71 in 1995 and 1996, which included questions on daily coffee intake. Men who drank two plus cups of coffee a day were about 10 percent less likely to die during the study than those who didn’t drink coffee; for women there was a 16 percent reduction in risk. Coffee was tied to a lower risk of dying from heart disease, stroke, injuries, accidents, and infections.

Research has yet to pinpoint the exact components of coffee that are beneficial to our health; and because of the observational design of many dietary studies, you can’t prove that coffee is directly responsible for a lower risk of death. Nonetheless, most research thus far has focused on the polyphenols, specifically the flavonoids in coffee. Studies isolating individual flavonoids (and other foods that contain them- wine, berries, and dark chocolate) have confirmed antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other health-promoting benefits in the body.

What types coffee should you look for in the market?
Look for fair trade certified, which ensures that farmers are getting paid fairly, and that your coffee is grown sustainably.

Brewing your own coffee at home is the most cost effective, and nutritious option. Love iced coffee? Your best bet is to brew a large pot of coffee at home, let it cool and drink it as an iced beverage during the day.

When drinking coffee, do keep in mind caffeine content as well as added creamers and sugars - which will make your healthy brew, just the opposite.