Two recent studies connected coffee consumption with a lower risk of death. But does drinking more than one cup of coffee a day really improve your health?
According to Dr. Jay Pandhi, a cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, coffee may have a beneficial role in reducing inflammation, improving arterial function and improving the regulation of sugar metabolism and preventing diabetes; however, it is not a one-size-fits-all theory.
"The antioxidants we find in coffee are associated with health benefits that lower the risk for heart disease," explains Dr. Pandhi. "However, coffee affects everyone differently, and while some may experience benefits from regular coffee consumption, others may have adverse effects."
Is coffee high in antioxidants?
Coffee — both caffeinated and decaffeinated — is the most common source of antioxidants for Americans. This is in part because we do not consume enough fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants.
In particular, coffee has high concentrations of flavonoids that are responsible for decreasing the detrimental effects of free radical oxygen on cells. Free radical oxygen causes breakdown of cells that lead to aging processes and are increased by habits such as smoking. The antioxidants in coffee prevent this breakdown, or "rusting," of cells.
How much is too much coffee?
Experts recommend caution with the consumption of coffee in high quantities, as drinking coffee on a regular basis can become addictive. When the consumption stops, it can cause withdrawal issues, including headaches, anxiety and fatigue. Consuming high quantities can also lead to trouble maintaining healthy sleep patterns.
So, what is an appropriate amount of coffee?
Although some studies suggest benefits from daily coffee consumption, other studies have shown no effect and even possible harm. The American Heart Association indicates that a moderate coffee consumption — one to two cups per day — does not seem to be harmful to most individuals.
What should we be aware of when drinking coffee?
Research on the health effects of coffee consumption has always been controversial. While there may be an overall benefit of consuming coffee in moderation, here are some things to be aware of:
- Coffee and caffeine can be addictive, so use with caution and in moderation
- People who have issues with sleeping, anxiety or heart palpitations and arrhythmias may do worse with coffee consumption
- Added cream and sugar can reduce the potential benefits gained from coffee consumption
"While recent research has demonstrated a benefit in mortality from drinking coffee, it may not be the case for all," says Dr. Pandhi. "In truth, the benefits and risks of coffee and caffeine are dependent on multiple factors unique to each individual."
Learn more about heart health at the Heart Health Expo sponsored by Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Saturday, Aug. 26, at St. Paul's Plaza in Chula Vista.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Pandhi about coffee's influence on our health for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at email@example.com.