Coffee Drinking Associated with Longer Life

May 22, 2012 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Coffee Drinking Associated with Longer Life
A National Institutes of Health study of more than 400,000 U.S. men and women aged 50 to 71 found that 3 to 4 cups of coffee per day, regular or decaffeinated, reduces the risk of death by 10 percent.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and is by far the largest study of its kind. Interestingly, the healthiest people at the start of the study had the greatest benefit. On the other hand, those who smoked had no benefit. Coffee consumption reduced the risk for deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, but not for deaths due to cancer.

Even one cup per day reduced the risk of early death by 6 percent. Coffee contains many compounds, including antioxidants. The study did not prove how coffee works, only that it is associated with a lower risk of death.

Even so, a good thing can be overdone. Too much coffee can make a person not sleep well or become too hyper during the day, neither of which benefit health or longevity. Coffee can also increase the need for B vitamins and magnesium, which are essential to good health. And coffee can reduce the absorption of iron when consumed at meals that contain iron. Regular coffee drinkers should ensure they are adequate in these important nutrients.

The study shows that coffee as part of an overall healthy lifestyle can be useful in supporting health.

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