It’s surprising when something that was once considered questionable for your health turns out to have health benefits, usually with the proviso to consume it “in moderation.” This happened with chocolate and alcohol, and now it’s coffee’s turn, according to the February edition of the Harvard Health Letter. Here’s some of the mostly good news about coffee:
Results from long-term studies show that coffee may not increase the risk for high blood pressure over time, as previously thought. Study findings for other cardiovascular effects are a mixed bag.
Coffee may have anti-cancer properties. Last year, researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. A few studies have found ties to lower rates of colon, breast and rectal cancers.
Two substances in coffee—kahweol and cafestol—raise cholesterol levels. Paper filters capture these substances, but this doesn’t help the many people who now drink unfiltered coffee drinks, such as lattes. Researchers have also found a link between cholesterol increases and decaffeinated coffee, possibly because of the type of bean used to make certain blends.
Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain chemicals that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.
Coffee seems to protect men, but not women, against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the gender difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.