Coffee: Healthy Drink or Bad Habit?

Many are addicted to it. Mormons won't go near it. Adults indulge, but most wouldn't think of giving it to children.

No, we're not talking about cigarettes or booze. We're referring to that dark, aromatic, morning beverage that is a guilty pleasure for some. Fortunately, it doesn't really have to be.

Until recently, drinking coffee was viewed as another bad habit, leading to high blood pressure, insomnia, and other health problems.

And while it’s true that high amounts of coffee can temporarily elevate blood pressure or cause insomnia for certain individuals, its effects are now recognized as mainly positive. Here's why.

Coffee Offers Longevity Benefits

Of particular interest to “life extensionists” is coffee's association with a longer life. In 2008, a report showed a decreased risk of dying over a 14-year period for coffee drinkers.1

And a recent study of Greek residents living in Ikaria (an island full of centenarians) linked coffee drinking to improved vascular function.2

Coffee is Chock-Full of Antioxidants

Did you know that coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet? Coffee contains more than one thousand recognized phytochemicals, among them chlorogenic acid.

By inhibiting the action of an enzyme known as glucose-6-phosphatase, chlorogenic acid contributes to healthy blood sugar levels. This is helpful for those with metabolic syndrome, diabetes or obesity.

Another important compound found in coffee is caffeic acid. It supports weight loss,3, 4 and it may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer.5

Coffee Offers Memory-Boosting Effects

The best-known component of coffee is caffeine. Caffeine is the reason why most people drink coffee, although its wonderful aroma and pleasant taste come in at a close second.

Caffeine imparts a sense of energy, alertness, and well-being. While it was once believed that caffeine didn't help memory, recent evidence suggests otherwise.

In a study, researchers found caffeine boosted memory 24 hours after ingestion, leading them to conclude that caffeine enhances the consolidation of long-term memories.

And in a study of people with mild cognitive impairment, higher blood levels of caffeine were associated with a reduced risk or delayed onset of dementia.7

Coffee Precautions

Like anything, coffee should be consumed in moderation. The risk of dependency, with its accompanying withdrawal headaches, is real.

For insomniacs, eliminating coffee after a certain time of day (for some people, as early as noon) can be essential for a good night's sleep. Caffeinated coffee should also be avoided by those suffering from anxiety disorders and urinary incontinence.

The Bottom Line

Coffee shouldn’t be blindly shunned by health enthusiasts. It’s only now that we’re beginning to uncover its amazing health benefits.


  1. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1354-61.
  2. Vasc Med. 2013 Apr;18(2):55-62.
  3. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Mar;48(3):937-43.
  4. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Nov 20;61(46):11082-8.
  5. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):895-901.
  6. Nat Neurosci. 2014 Feb;17(2):201-3.
  7. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(3):559-72.


Anonymous said...

nice review thanks for the info! really interesting and surprising to see how coffee can be beneficial for health,
I thought maybe the roasting process will give some bad point to the coffee ?

Anonymous said...

Great news. We're not giving up coffee. Diet Soda has been cut out, and water is our go to beverage. So glad to read this data point.

Life Extension said...

Anonymous - We're glad to bring the good news!

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