One day, scientists will come to a consensus, I just know it. The clouds will part, one magical, peer-reviewed study will fall from the sky, and there will be a collective “EUREKA!” What I’m talking about is dietary recommendations. You wake up one morning and the headline is “eggs are TERRIBLE” and a few weeks later, another study shouts “eggs are fine, if you don’t eat them you’re TERRIBLE.” Is it any wonder we all struggle with what we put in our bodies? One food that has been subject to varying claims over the years (“It’s a super food!” “No, it’s not; it will literally kill you and your entire family!”) is coffee. Beloved beverage of millions of overworked adults, your favorite morning pick-me-up has had all kinds of accusations hurled at it. So I’m here today to find out, once and for all. Is coffee good, bad, or AMAZING AND PERFECT IN EVERY WAY?
I have loved coffee for a long time. When I was a young teenager, I used to get a cup after church, because all the adults were doing it. It was a social activity. It didn’t matter that I had to put in 800 sugar cubes and a truck-load of cream to make it palatable. I was so GROWN-UP with my GROWN-UP HOT BEAN JUICE. The adults would always tease me, saying things like “it’ll stunt your growth!” But I wasn’t swayed. In high school, a friend showed me how to pour coffee over vanilla ice cream and thus reveal the true purpose of life.
I’m not sure where along the way I got the message that coffee was going to poison me, but I cut way back for a very long time, only enjoying the occasional latte or cup when I needed to power through a late-night study session. I am still mindful of my consumption these days, with the reasoning that because I typically use artificial sweetener, it’s probably not best to make it a daily habit. I still enjoy about 5 cups a week. Just typing that makes me want a cup right now!
Is coffee your heart’s best buddy?
There’s a great deal of debate whether coffee is healthy or not. Two different studies found completely different results on coffee’s impact on the heart. One study found that drinking up to five cups a day had no worse impact on arteries than having less than a cup a day. The same study even suggests that 25 cups – that’s right TWENTY-FIVE CUPS – a day don’t seem to harden arteries any more than the “less than a cup” a day drinkers. No word on whether these same people ever sleep at all. Other studies tout coffee’s antioxidant properties and the longer lives of drinkers (again, I’m thinking it’s because they don’t slow down long enough for Death to catch up).
Another study is here to rain on our coffee parade, however. This one found that “heavy consumption” – six cups a day or more – may raise a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. That study admittedly looked at more people than the first – almost 350,000 compared to only 8,000 – so, make of that what you will.
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup!
For my own personal health, I should probably continue to practice moderation with coffee. My hypothyroidism and family history makes me a bit more susceptible to future heart problems. I tend to choose green tea, which has somewhat-more favorable scientific research behind it. The important thing for all of us is to be honest with our doctors about the amounts of anything we’re putting in our bodies. For most of us, a little coffee is probably just fine. At least, until the next study gets published that says otherwise.