The Pros and Cons of Coffee

Coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and is a consumed daily by a majority of Americans. In fact, we spend about $18 billion a year specifically on coffee, and as a nation we consume 450 million cups per day. That adds up to a whopping 150 billion cups of coffee per year, just in the US! At One Fat Frog commercial restaurant equipment, we have a number of  commercial coffee makers, tea brewing stations, and other equipment to get your coffee shop or cafe up and running. With this much potential revenue, and over half of the population as potential DAILY customers, adding coffee (or expanding your offerings) should be a no-brainer!

With the amount of coffee being consumed, it stands to reason that a lot of research has gone into the health benefits (or detriments) of the drink. Much of that research is still contested or inconclusive, but listed below are some of the more established pros and cons of that hot cuppa Joe.

The “Pros”

1 Antioxidants

Coffee has more beneficial antioxidants – such as chlorogenic acid and melanoidins – than grape juice, blueberries, green teas, herbal teas, or cocoa. Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent a wide variety of diseases, including some forms of cancer, macular degeneration, cataracts, and others.

2 Diabetes

Studies have noted that moderate coffee consumption may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in younger and middle aged women. Additionally, coffee has been shown to help protect against incident type 2 diabetes, both in patients with glucose impairment and those without.

3 Parkinson’s disease

A number of studies have shown strong evidence that coffee consumption helps prevent the onset of Parkinson’s disease.

4 Liver damage

Moderate (3+ cups per day) coffee consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of liver disease, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. These studies have also shown a link between coffee consumption and the inhibiting of the progress of type C hepatitis.

5 Gallstones and Kidney Stones

Evidence suggests that consuming four or more cups of coffee per day equates to a 25% less chance of developing gallstones compared to people who drink no coffee. Additionally, 240 mgs/day of caffeine (1-3 cups depending on size and type) cuts the chance of developing kidney stones by 10%.

6 Gout

Hyperuricemia (linked to both gout and kidney stone formation) can be reduced by drinking coffee. Drinking one to three cups per day lowers gout risk by only 8%, whereas four or five cups a day may decrease the serum uric acid level and the risk of gout in men by 40%

7 Work performance

Caffeine, after all, is a stimulant. Many studies have linked caffeine intake with attentiveness, alertness, and increased ability to focus on tasks.

8 Asthma

There is some evidencethat coffee may help manage asthma and even control attacks when medication is unavailable. Caffeine in coffee is related to theophylline, an old asthma medication. It can improve airways function modestly, for up to four hours, and improve asthma symptoms.

9 Alzheimer’s disease

Several studies comparing moderate coffee drinkers (about 2 cups a day) with light coffee drinkers (less than one cup a day) found that those who drank more coffee at midlife were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life. Recent research in mice indicates that drinking five cups of coffee a day could even reverse memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease.

The “Cons”

1 Heart disease

The relationship between coffee and risk of cardiovascular disease has been examined in many studies, but the results remain controversial. Most studies have not found coffee consumption to be associated with significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk, but there is not a consensus on the potential dangers.

To get an idea of where the confusion comes from, consider two recent studies. A study of 128,000 men and women showed no increase in the risk of heart disease from drinking filtered coffee. The findings of the study – published in May 2006 in the journal “Circulation” – indicated that it didn’t matter how much coffee participants drank. Another study of 4,000 coffee drinkers published in March 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that two or more cups of coffee a day can increase the risk of heart disease in people with a specific – and fairly common – genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.

2 Increased cholesterol levels

Heavy consumption of boiled coffee elevates blood total and LDL cholesterol levels. Unfiltered coffee is a significant source of cafestol and kahweol, which are diterpenes responsible for cholesterol-raising effects of coffee. Diterpenes are extracted by hot water but are retained by a paper filter. This explains why filtered coffee does not affect cholesterol, whereas Scandinavian boiled, cafetiere, and Turkish coffees do.

3 Blood pressure

Although coffee consumption is not a significant risk factor for hypertension, it produces unfavorable effects on blood pressure. No doubt caffeine is responsible for blood pressure increase. People prone to hypertension may be more susceptible to coffee blood pressure elevating effects. But even in people who don’t have high blood pressure, caffeine can cause a short, but significant increase in blood pressure.

One recent Italian study found that coffee drinking can slightly increase the risk of developing sustained hypertension in persons with elevated blood pressure.

4 Osteoporosis (bone loss)

Coffee can impair the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract, and may induce an extra urinary excretion of calcium. Heavy coffee drinking (4 cups=600 ml or more) can modestly increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women with a low calcium intake.

5 Disrupted sleep

Excess caffeine can overstimulate the central nervous system. High amounts of caffeine can have a negative effect on sleep onset and quality. However, there are large individual differences in the effects of caffeine on sleep. Many people consume coffee during the evening and have no problems falling asleep. Some people find that the mild stimulation of caffeine consumed shortly before bed time extends the time needed to fall asleep.

6 Heartburn

Some people suffer from heartburn after drinking coffee. Coffee promotes gastro-oesophageal reflux, but is not associated with dyspepsia.

7 Dehydration

The caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic and can increase the volume of urine excreted. However, this effect can be easily counteracted by drinking extra water.

8 Rheumatoid arthritis

Decaffeinated coffee may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers speculate that rather than the presence or absence of caffeine being the culprit, there may be something in the way decaffeinated coffee is processed that triggers an arthritic response, perhaps industrial solvents.

Interestingly, the study linking decaffeinated coffee and rheumatoid arthritis suggests that, “Women who drink more than three cups of tea a day are much less likely to develop the disease than those who don’t drink tea”.

Another study found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had twice the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, compared with those who drank less coffee.

Dr. Maarku Heliovaara of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues looked at data from nearly 19,000 healthy men and women who entered a study in the early 1970s and were followed for 15 years. Coffee drinkers were at higher risk of developing rheumatoid factor-associated rheumatoid arthritis.

It is not clear why coffee might be associated with rheumatoid factor. Most people in the study drank boiled coffee, a practice no longer common in Finland. It is possible that some ingredient in coffee that is associated with rheumatoid factor is removed by the filtration, according to the researchers.

So, there you have it – more than you ever wanted to know about the health effects of coffee. With One Fat Frog, you can outfit your business with all the restaurant equipment you will need to take advantage of the income benefits – and possible health benefits – of Americas obsession with coffee.

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