Just in Case You Need More Reasons to Drink Coffee…

Java junkies, the scientific community has some delicious news for you.

The findings of four recent studies add to the growing body of research that shows coffee offers some pretty impressive health benefits.

Study 1

Some studies suggest that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Scientists initially believed that caffeine was responsible for this effect, but additional studies identified other substances in coffee that may play a more significant role.

A new study – published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products – found that one of these previously untested compounds appears to improve cell function and insulin sensitivity in laboratory mice.

Science Daily shared the details:

In a previous laboratory study, Fredrik Brustad Mellbye, Søren Gregersen, and colleagues found that a compound in coffee called cafestol increased insulin secretion in pancreatic cells when they were exposed to glucose. Cafestol also increased glucose uptake in muscle cells just as effectively as a commonly prescribed antidiabetic drug. In this new study, the researchers wanted to see if cafestol would help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes in mice.

The researchers divided mice that are prone to develop Type 2 diabetes into three groups. Two of the groups were fed differing doses of cafestol. After 10 weeks, both sets of cafestol-fed mice had lower blood glucose levels and improved insulin secretory capacity compared to a control group, which was not given the compound. Cafestol also didn’t result in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, a possible side effect of some antidiabetic medications.

Conclusion? The researchers believe that daily consumption of cafestol may delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes in humans.

Study 2

New research suggests higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of death and can be part of a healthful diet in otherwise healthy people.

Conducted within the framework of the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra (SUN) Project (a long-term prospective cohort study in more than 22,500 Spanish university graduates which began in 1999), the study’s purpose was to examine the association between coffee consumption and the risk of mortality in a middle-aged Mediterranean cohort.

The analysis included 19,896 participants, whose average age at enrollment was 37.7 years old. Upon entering the study, participants completed a previously validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire to collect information on coffee consumption, lifestyle and sociodemographic characteristics, anthropometric measurements, and previous health conditions.

Participants were followed for an average of ten years. Information on mortality was obtained from study participants and their families, postal authorities, and the National Death Index. During the ten year period, 337 participants died.

The researchers found that participants who consumed at least four cups of coffee per day had a 64% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who never or almost never consumed coffee. There was a 22% lower risk of all-cause mortality for each two additional cups of coffee per day.

In those who were at least 45 years old, drinking two additional cups of coffee per day was associated with a 30% lower risk of mortality during follow-up.

Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, said of the findings,

“In the SUN project we found an inverse association between drinking coffee and the risk of all-cause mortality, particularly in people aged 45 years and above. This may be due to a stronger protective association among older participants.”

Study 3

Chronic liver diseases rank as the 12th cause of death worldwide, and many of these disorders are associated with unhealthy lifestyles. Liver-related mortality is closely related to the development of cirrhosis, the final consequence of progressive fibrosis – scarring of the liver resulting from chronic inflammation.

A recent study published in the Journal of Hepatology revealed that drinking coffee and herbal tea may protect against liver fibrosis. Because these beverages are popular, widely available, and inexpensive, they could have the potential to become important in the prevention of advanced liver disease, the researchers say.

The researchers gathered data on 2,424 participants of the Rotterdam study, a large population-based cohort study including participants 45 years or older living in a suburb of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. All of the participants underwent an extensive physical workup, and completed externally validated questionnaires on food, coffee, and tea intake.

Investigators found that frequent coffee consumption was significantly associated with lower odds of high liver stiffness values (less scarring of the liver) – independent of lifestyle, metabolic, and environmental traits.

When they examined the whole range of liver stiffness values, they found that both frequent coffee and any herbal tea consumption, even in small amounts, were significantly associated with lower liver stiffness values.

And, while no direct association was found between either coffee or tea and the presence of fat accumulation in the liver (NAFLD) per se, the effect of coffee on lowering the liver stiffness was significant in both the group with and without liver fat. This led the authors to conclude that frequent coffee and herbal tea seem to have beneficial effects on preventing liver scarring even before overt liver disease has developed.

Lead author Louise J. M. Alferink, MD, of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, said of the findings:

“Over the past decades, we gradually deviated towards more unhealthy habits, including a sedentary lifestyle, decreased physical activity, and consumption of a ‘Happy Diet’.

This Happy Diet, also known as the Western diet, is typically rich in unhealthy foods including processed foods lacking nutrients and artificial sugars. This has led not only to an obesity epidemic, but also to a rapid increase in the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is due to extensive accumulation of fat in the liver and resembles alcoholic liver disease in people who do not exceed two drinks a day of alcohol.

In this context, examining accessible and inexpensive lifestyle strategies that have potential health benefits, such as coffee and tea consumption, is a viable approach to finding ways to halt the rapid increase of liver disease in developed countries.”

Study 4

I saved the best for last.

A recent study found that two of the most delicious substances in the universe have extra potent super powers when combined.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a LITTLE, but the research did find that the pairing of cocoa and caffeine offers some impressive benefits.

Clarkson University researcher Ali Boolani teamed up with colleagues at the University of Georgia to examine the “acute effects of brewed cocoa consumption on attention, motivation to perform cognitive work and feelings of anxiety, energy and fatigue.”

For the nearly year-long double-blind study, participants drank brewed cocoa, cocoa with caffeine, caffeine without cocoa, and a placebo with neither caffeine nor cocoa. Then they were asked to do tests to evaluate both cognitive tasks and mood. They were asked to watch as letters flashed across a screen and note when an “X” appeared after an “A.” They also had to point out when odd numbers appeared sequentially, and they were required to do subtraction.

The researchers concluded

Brewed cocoa can acutely reduce errors associated with attention in the absence of changes in either perceived motivation to perform cognitive tasks or feelings of energy and fatigue. Supplemental caffeine in brewed cocoa can enhance aspects of attention while brewed cocoa can attenuate the anxiety-provoking effects found from drinking caffeine alone.

Boolani said of the research:

“It was a really fun study. Cocoa increases cerebral blood flow, which increases cognition and attention. Caffeine alone can increase anxiety. This particular project found that cocoa lessens caffeine’s anxiety-producing effects — a good reason to drink mocha lattes!

The results of the tests are definitely promising and show that cocoa and caffeine are good choices for students and anyone else who needs to improve sustained attention.”

He will be conducting more studies on caffeine and cocoa, Boolani said.

Where can we sign up to be test subjects?

***

Want to know more about coffee, why it is so delicious, and the best way to prepare it?  Check out the fun video below.

Related Reading

Drink Coffee, Cheat Death?

10 Amazing Health Benefits of Coffee

Great News for Cocoa and Chocolate Lovers: Both Are Good For Your Brain

10 Convincing Reasons to Eat Chocolate

20 Reasons to Have a Love Affair With Chocolate (as if you needed more reasons…)

 

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About the author

Lisa Egan

Lisa is a researcher and writer who lives in the outskirts of D.C. She has a BS in Health Science with a concentration in Nutrition. Lisa has worked as a personal trainer and nutritionist and is a certified hypnotherapist. She enjoys helping people learn about how to improve their health.

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