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Can coffee help you live longer?

Some people say that they can’t live without coffee. From college students, to the frazzled moms, to the office and blue collar workers, to the elderly men hanging out in the neighborhood cafe; coffee unites us all. But science is showing us that the people who depend on coffee may be reaping some additional health benefits.

Coffee Drinking Aging Study

New research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has shown that drinking coffee is linked with a longer lifespan and a lower risk of heart disease. What’s even more surprising is that it doesn’t seem to matter if a person drinks decaf, ground, or even instant coffee. Mild to moderate servings of coffee seem to be the key though- the results are from subjects who drank two to three cups of coffee per day.

The study was made up of 449,563 people between the ages of 40 to 69. Most were women (55.3%). All of the participants were free of heart disease and arrhythmias at the start of the study. They were all asked to complete a questionnaire asking the following questions:

  • How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?

  • Do you drink instant coffee, ground coffee, or decaffeinated coffee?

The participants were then grouped into categories depending on how many cups of coffee they say they consumed per day:

  • None

  • Less than one

  • Two to three

  • Four to five

  • More than fve

One thing to note is that in this study, United Kingdom (UK) terminology is used, so it might not be completely in-line with what American consumers may say. For example, in the study, instant coffee is the typical coffee that you make in a brewing machine. This would be something like Folgers or your Keurig K-Cups and not the flavor crystals that you just add water to. Ground coffee includes the beans that you grind at home or in a coffee shop. This also includes the higher end drinks such as espresso or cappuccino. Decaf is decaf, no matter the way it’s made.

Most participants (44.1%) drank instant coffee, followed by 18.4% who drank ground, and 15.2% who preferred decaffeinated. Of those surveyed, 22.4% were non coffee drinkers. 

The coffee drinkers were compared to non-drinkers after a 12.5 year follow up. Researchers looked at who was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, arrhythmias, and who died. They also took gender, age, ethnicity, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, smoking, and alcohol consumption into consideration and adjusted for these health conditions and habits.  

  • 6.2% of participants died during the followup.

  • All types of coffee were linked to a reduction in death from any cause.

  • Participants who drank 2-3 cups per day had the best outcome.

  • Compared to non coffee drinkers, the 2-3 cup per day group had:

    • Instant coffee: 11% risk reduction

    • Ground coffee: 27% risk reduction

    • Decaf coffee: 14% risk reduction

Cardiovascular disease was also reduced when coffee drinkers were compared to non coffee drinkers. A total of 9.6% of participants said they had been diagnosed with heart disease during the followup. The risk was reduced the most in the 2-3 cup per day category.

  • 9% risk reduction with instant coffee

  • 20% with ground coffee

  • 6% with decaffeinated coffee

What’s more is that this new study isn’t the only one that shows coffee drinkers have an advantage when it comes to longevity. One study done on just caffeinated coffee drinkers concluded a lower risk of death at both 12 and 18 years follow up. The same study showed a lower risk of cancer as well! 

Even in a test tube, coffee showed potential for extending life. The lifespan of yeast in a 2020 study was longer when compared to yeast that was not given coffee. This same study concluded that the coffee helped protect against free radicals and DNA damage.

Other Benefits from Drinking Coffee

Drinking coffee has officially been shown to potentially increase your lifespan, but are there any short term benefits? Yes!

Increased Energy 

Other than decaffeinated coffee, your drink is going to include caffeine. Caffeine works by stimulating your central nervous system and the receptors of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. This causes other neurotransmitters in your brain to ramp up- and that includes dopamine. As a result, you’ll have an increase in energy. 

Weight Management

There is a little bit of research showing that coffee might help regulate fat storage and support gut health. This seems to be true in both men and women. But it could also be tied to the increase in energy that coffee provides because the more energetic you are, the more likely you are to move your body. 

Less Depression

There is a study showing that coffee drinkers are 8% less likely to suffer from depression. Another one shows a lower risk of suicide

These are just a few of the added benefits of drinking coffee, though there have been many others studied. 

Enjoy your Coffee!

Long story short, the scientists who conducted the UK study say that it really doesn’t matter what type of coffee that people consume, but that two to three cups is ideal because there are benefits. Of course there are always outliers, but there is no need to feel guilty for enjoying a couple of cups of bean water every morning!

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