Dear Dr. Mo: I’ve read your column on health benefits of green tea but I’m more of a coffee person, I drink it daily, several cups. Is coffee good for my health?
Dear reader: Yes – coffee consumption, especially as you said, several cups a day, is definitely associated with numerous health benefits and we see this in a wealth of observational and interventional research that looked into coffee drinking and health outcomes in adults.
Personally, I drink decaffeinated coffee but whether regular or decaf (just make sure it’s a water decaf), it’s associated with a 17% lower risk for what we call ‘all-cause mortality’ when compared to no coffee consumption. Also, both regular and decaf seem to lower a person’s risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you prefer caffeinated best, you’ll be happy to know that this type of coffee is linked to lower risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke with benefits being the highest at 3-4 cups daily. Caffeinated coffee is also associated with lower risks for cancer and liver problems.
What I miss out by not drinking caffeinated coffee, I more than make up for with green tea so I do encourage you give it try – good quality green teas are somewhat of an acquired taste so be patient.
Now, as with anything else, there are some harms associated with coffee. High consumption in pregnancy was linked to low birth weight, preterm birth and even pregnancy loss; high consumption was also tied to higher fracture risk in women (but not in men).
For these reasons it makes sense to avoid coffee in pregnancy and in women at high fracture risk (like for example those with osteopenia or osteoporosis etc.) or at least to be educated about possible risks.
For everyone else, there’s enough evidence to suggest that drinking coffee is generally safe and beneficial.
Yours in health,