The earthy, caffeine-infused coffee drink may have more power than waking you up in the morning.
According to a new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, drinking unsweetened or unsweetened coffee is associated with a lower risk of death than not drinking it.
Researchers surveyed 171,616 participants in the UK up to five times over the course of a year about their lifestyle, including their coffee drinking habits. Scientists then looked at death certificates to see who had died on average seven years later.
The participants were between the ages of 37 and 73 and said they had no cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time of the survey.
The results showed that for people who drank a moderate amount of coffee, defined as 1.5 to 3.5 cups a day, those who watered down their coffee had about a 30% lower risk of death than those who did not. coffee drinkers, according to Dr. Christina Wee, associate. professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study. She is also associate editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Unsweetened coffee drinkers had between 16% and 29% lower risk of death than non-coffee drinkers, she added.
Results were adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle, and clinical factors to eliminate their effects on the results. For example, the research team asked about level of smoking, amount of physical activity, level of education and eating habits, Wee said.
There’s a limit to the researchers’ adjustments because they didn’t ask about other factors that might affect the results, such as income level and occupation, she said.
If you’re drinking sugar-laden lattes and caramel macchiatos, you’re out of luck.
According to the study, the average coffee drinker who reports sweetening their coffee adds an average of 1 teaspoon.
“If you only add about 1 teaspoon of sugar to your coffee, the coffee benefits that we think are there aren’t completely negated by that 1 teaspoon,” Wee said.
The results for people who used an artificial sweetener in their coffee were less clear, so the researchers couldn’t draw conclusions for people who prefer sugar substitutes.
“Based on this study, clinicians can tell their patients that most coffee drinkers do not need to eliminate the beverage from their diet, but to be cautious with higher calorie specialty coffees,” wrote Dr. Dan Liu, lead author of the study, in an email. She is from the Department of Epidemiology at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.
Previous research has shown that drinking coffee can protect the heart and help treat other illnesses, Liu said. It may also reduce the risk of liver problems, according to a 2021 study.
Coffee also has different health profiles, depending on how it’s produced, said Gunter Kuhnle, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading in the UK. He did not participate in the study.
Some types contain phenolic compounds, which are considered beneficial, he said.
These chemical compounds affect the flavor and aroma of coffee and are valuable because they can act as antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties.
The two most common species of coffee are arabica and robusta, and research shows that robusta coffee has a higher phenolic content than arabica coffee.
Unroasted green coffee beans contain high levels of phenolic compounds, but the bad aroma when brewed causes people to roast them. Depending on the roast level, some of the phenolic compounds may break down.
And depending on how you brew it, coffee can contain high levels of diterpenes, which are chemical compounds that can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, Kuhnle said.
According to a 2016 study, boiled coffee and French pressed coffee contain some of the highest amounts of diterpenes.
Mocha and espresso coffee contained a moderate amount of diterpenes, while instant coffees or filtered coffees contained the least.