Myth #2: Coffee is Dangerous and Unhealthy

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I recommend that you limit your caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day.  

“Coffee is dangerous and unhealthy.”  This is preposterous and untrue for most of us.  The reasoning behind this is coffee contains caffeine and caffeine is dangerous. Most studies today, however, actually show that coffee has health benefits that out weigh the dangers for most of us.  

Caffeine should be restricted in anyone who has high blood pressure, kidney disease, a history of stroke, or coronary artery disease.  

I recommend coffee to anyone who does not have a medical reason not to drink it.  Why coffee?  

Research:

  1. Coffee is the excellent source of antioxidants[1],[2],[3].  Antioxidants are needed to decrease inflammation.  They have been proven to lower the risk for multiple cancers and coronary artery disease.  One study looked at antioxidants and their effect on lipid profiles.  This study showed that drinking coffee improved blood lipid panels[4].
  2. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dementia and memory loss[5].  There is some proof that coffee helps with Alzheimer’s and dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease[6],[7].  Numerous studies show that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of many serious diseases.
  3. Lastly, research from the New England Journal of Medicine shows a decrease in all causes of mortality[8],[9].  

The Truth: Despite the perception that coffee is unhealthy, coffee contains antioxidants that help prevent inflammation and disease.  As long as you do not have a health condition that precludes the use of caffeine, it is safe with moderation of less than 400 mg per day. 

Footnotes
[1]Bonita et al., “Coffee and Cardiovascular Disease: In Vitro, Cellular, Animal, and Human Studies.”
[2]Svilaas et al., “Intakes of Antioxidants in Coffee, Wine, and Vegetables Are Correlated with Plasma Carotenoids in Humans.”
[3]Pulido, Hernández-García, and Saura-Calixto, “Contribution of Beverages to the Intake of Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidants in the Spanish Diet.”
[4]Agudelo-Ochoa et al., “Coffee Consumption Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of Plasma and Has No Effect on the Lipid Profile or Vascular Function in Healthy Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial.”
[5]Panza et al., “Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Consumption and Prevention of Late-Life Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Systematic Review.”
[6]Wang et al., “Effects of Caffeic Acid on Learning Deficits in a Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
[7]Hernán et al., “A Meta-Analysis of Coffee Drinking, Cigarette Smoking, and the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease.”
[8]Freedman et al., “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.”
[9]Loftfield et al., “Association of Coffee Consumption With Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Prospective Cohort Study.”
Agudelo-Ochoa, GM, IC Pulgarín-Zapata, CM Velásquez-Rodriguez, M Duque-Ramírez, M Naranjo-Cano, MM Quintero-Ortiz, OJ Lara-Guzmán, and K Muñoz-Durango. “Coffee Consumption Increases the Antioxidant Capacity of Plasma and Has No Effect on the Lipid Profile or Vascular Function in Healthy Adults in a Randomized Controlled Trial.” The Journal of Nutrition 146, no. 3 (March 1, 2016): 524–31 [PubMed]
Bonita, JS, M Mandarano, D Shuta, and J Vinson. “Coffee and Cardiovascular Disease: In Vitro, Cellular, Animal, and Human Studies.” Pharmacological Research 55, no. 3 (March 1, 2007): 187–98 [PubMed]
Freedman, ND, Y Park, CC Abnet, AR Hollenbeck, and R Sinha. “Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality.” The New England Journal of Medicine 366, no. 20 (May 17, 2012): 1891–1904 [PubMed]
Hernán, MA, B Takkouche, F Caamaño-Isorna, and JJ Gestal-Otero. “A Meta-Analysis of Coffee Drinking, Cigarette Smoking, and the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease.” Annals of Neurology 52, no. 3 (September 1, 2002): 276–84 [PubMed]
Loftfield, E, ND Freedman, BI Graubard, KA Guertin, A Black, WY Huang, FM Shebl, ST Mayne, and R Sinha. “Association of Coffee Consumption With Overall and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Large US Prospective Cohort Study.” American Journal of Epidemiology 182, no. 12 (December 15, 2015): 1010–22 [PubMed]
Panza, F, V Solfrizzi, MR Barulli, C Bonfiglio, V Guerra, A Osella, D Seripa, C Sabbà, A Pilotto, and G Logroscino. “Coffee, Tea, and Caffeine Consumption and Prevention of Late-Life Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Systematic Review.” The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 19, no. 3 (March 1, 2015): 313–28 [PubMed]
Pulido, R, M Hernández-García, and F Saura-Calixto. “Contribution of Beverages to the Intake of Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidants in the Spanish Diet.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 57, no. 10 (October 1, 2003): 1275–82 [PubMed]
Svilaas, A, AK Sakhi, LF Andersen, T Svilaas, EC Ström, DR Jacobs, L Ose, and R Blomhoff. “Intakes of Antioxidants in Coffee, Wine, and Vegetables Are Correlated with Plasma Carotenoids in Humans.” The Journal of Nutrition 134, no. 3 (March 1, 2004): 562–67 [PubMed]
Wang, Y, Y Wang, J Li, L Hua, B Han, Y Zhang, X Yang, et al. “Effects of Caffeic Acid on Learning Deficits in a Model of Alzheimer’s Disease.” International Journal of Molecular Medicine 38, no. 3 (September 1, 2016): 869–75 [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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