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The Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee: Expert

Coffee has become an indispensable part of many people’s lives. According to coffee consumption statistics, about 30 to 40 percent of the world’s population drinks coffee daily. The number of coffee drinkers in the United States accounts for about 65 percent of the total population.

More studies show that coffee has advantages and disadvantages for the human body. Experts remind us to avoid drinking too much coffee.

Lowers Blood Pressure

In a research paper published in Nutrients in January 2023, researchers analyzed the data of more than 1,500 people—720 men and 783 women—in Northern Italy. The data include people’s coffee drinking habits, blood pressure levels, and other cardiovascular health-related indicators.

The research shows that the systolic blood pressure (SPB) of people who drink two cups of coffee daily is about 5.2 mmHg lower than those who do not drink coffee. The SPB of people who drink more than three cups a day is about 9.7 mmHg lower.

Similar trends are also observed in peripheral pulse pressure, aortic blood pressure, and aortic pulse pressure.

Reduces the Risk of Death

In a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2022, researchers analyzed the data of 468,629 participants (aged 48 to 64, 44.2 percent male) in the British Biobank. All participants did not have heart disease records before the study.

Based on their coffee intake, the participants were divided into three groups: no coffee, small to medium amount of coffee (one-half to three cups daily), and a large amount (over three cups daily).

After about 11 years of follow-up, the researchers found that compared with people who do not drink coffee, people who drink one-half to three cups daily are 12 percent less likely to suffer from all-cause death. The risk of death caused by cardiovascular disease is reduced by 17 percent, while the risk of stroke in the group is decreased by 21 percent. This amount of consumption is also associated with a lower likelihood of developing diabetes.

The researchers also analyzed the impact of regular coffee intake on human heart structure and function. Compared with people who do not drink coffee, drinking one-half to three cups daily is good for heart health, as it increases blood circulation and delays age-related heart changes.

However, the study is limited to ground coffee and its health benefits.

Protects the Liver

In a research review published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology in December 2021, researchers included 16 papers to analyze the relationship between coffee and the incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) and the reduction of liver fibrosis. Five of the studies included the data of 2,948 NAFLD patients.

The results exhibit that coffee intake is significantly associated with the reduction of liver fibrosis in NAFLD patients. Compared with patients who did not drink coffee, the liver fibrosis of coffee patients lessened by 33 percent.

Another study published in BMC Public Health in June 2021 shows that the risk of chronic liver disease is reduced by 21 percent in people who drink coffee, while the risk of chronic liver disease or fatty liver is lowered by 20 percent.

The analysis also shows whether consuming ground, instant, or decaffeinated coffee has a similar effect, among which the benefits of ground coffee are the most significant.

Reduces the Risk of Contracting COVID-19

In a study published in Nutrients in June 2021, a research team from the Northwestern University of Illinois took the data of 37,988 British people aged 40 to 70 from the British Biobank as the object of the study.

The university researchers tracked the trends of COVID-19 infection in the participants.

The data were then adjusted based on the model of everyone’s dietary factors, basic information, health condition, and other data.

Compared with people who drank less than one cup of coffee daily, people who drank one cup, two to three cups, and four cups daily have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 by about 10 percent, 10 percent, and 8 percent, respectively.

The research team stated that coffee is the primary source of caffeine which contains various immune-related ingredients.

Polyphenols in coffee have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The intake of coffee also links to inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), as they are connected to the severity and mortality of COVID-19 infection.

Prevents Cognitive Impairment

Researchers at Edith Cowan University and other institutions in Australia published a report in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in November 2021. They found that people who consume a lot of coffee may not be susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease.

Is There a Catch To Having Too Much Coffee?

Many studies have confirmed that drinking coffee is both good and bad. Drinking coffee in moderation is good for the human body, but there will be problems if drinking too much.

Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in March 2019 said a group of researchers conducted data analysis of nearly 350,000 people, aged between 37 and 73 years old, from the British Biobank.

The study found that those who drink more than six cups of coffee daily are 22 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than those who drink only one to two cups of coffee a day.

Zhao Shunrong, a pharmacist and chairman of the Taiwan Preventive Health Care Association, mentioned during an online Q&A session that we should be mindful of the following when drinking coffee:

  1. While coffee has a “pick-me-up” effect, it can also cause insomnia.
  2. Coffee stimulates gastric acid secretion and will aggravate gastric ulcer symptoms.
  3. Coffee is diuretic. More urination impacts sleep quality and dryness of the skin.
  4. Coffee diuresis increases calcium loss, indirectly decreasing bone density.
  5. Coffee addiction will cause burnout or an inability to focus.

Officials from Taiwan Prevention and Health Care Association remind the public not to consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is equivalent to two mugs daily and a maximum of four cups daily. For espresso, you should not exceed two cups a day.

Zhao also added that people who often drink coffee should pay attention to increasing calcium supplements and exercise.

Regular coffee drinkers should consume more milk, dried fish, cheese, green vegetables, calcium tablets, and plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

The pharmacist said that we should enjoy coffee in moderation.

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