By Paula Rincon
“Coffee stunts growth in children.”
“Drinking coffee is detrimental to any weight-loss plan.”
“Coffee is addictive and messes up your teeth.”
You’ve probably heard some variation of these warnings. With such a bad reputation over the years, you might wonder why this dark beverage is still served at professional events. In fact, an increasing body of evidence is demystifying dated beliefs associated with coffee consumption, and some experts are even advising the addition of coffee to a healthy lifestyle.
Here I’ll go over some of the most recently found therapeutic properties attributed to drinking coffee:
- It may prevent diabetes: A recent study, authored by Shilpa Bhupathiraju at the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that drinking more than a cup of coffee per day over a period of four years lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- It stimulates metabolism of lipids in liver: A study recently published in the journal Hepatology featured caffeine as a “potent stimulator” of lipolysis (breakdown of lipids) in mammalian liver cells. In this strudy, Rohit Sinha et al., demonstrated that caffeine intake can reduce the lipid content of livers of high-fat-fed mice.
- It may lower the risk of suicide: Scientists at HSPH identified caffeine as an antidepressant in cohorts of American men and women in a longitudinal study that spanned over 10 years. Michel et al. concluded that caffeinated coffee halved the risk of suicide in these large cohorts, presumably due to the increased production of dopamine and serotonin associated with caffeine consumption.
- It can help you ward off tooth decay and cavities: Trigonelline and nicotinic and chlorogenic acids in coffee have been shown to have antiadhesive properties against the bacterium Streptococcus mutants.
- Coffee is a great antioxidant: A 2012 study revealed that 3,5-dicaffeoyl-quinic acid and isomers in coffee have DNA-protective effects against free-radical damage.
- And coffee can make you happy: According to a study with rats, the coffee bean aroma helps reduce the stress often caused by sleep deprivation. Now you know there’s a reason why you might find yourself joyfully gravitating toward that freshly brewed pot of coffee in the morning.
This being said, everyone processes coffee at different rates, and, if you are a regular coffee drinker, you might know the limits of your coffee indulgence. Being Colombian myself, I’ve seen the whole spectrum of tolerance to caffeine in the people around me. If you get jittery, opt for decaffeinated! Whatever your level of tolerance, I’m sure you agree with me that coffee is a cultural experience around which interesting conversations cook and chance encounters emerge. Allow yourself to enjoy holding a cup of warm coffee while reading the Experimental Biology conference program, and rest assured that the old days when coffee was thought of as toxic are gone.
It will not only give you that energy boost that you need, but will keep you rejuvenated and cheerful!
Rohit A. Sinha, et al. (2014). Caffeine stimulates hepatic lipid metabolism by the autophagy-lysosomal pathway in mice.
Michel Lucas, et al. (2013) Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: Results from three prospective cohorts of American adults.
Jian-Guo Xu, et al. (2012) Antioxidant and DNA-Protective Activities of Chlorogenic Acid Isomers