Want to live longer? Have another coffee

Never mind cures for COVID and lowering the risk of heart disease, we finally have some really important health news – coffee can help you live longer!

The COVID and heart disease comments are, of course, in jest, but as someone who averages three to four long blacks a day, it is good to see scientific evidence that those coffees are not only not doing me harm, but likely doing good.

It seems that drinking a moderate amount (1.5 to 3.5 cups) of coffee a day lowers the risk of death by somewhere between 16 and 29 per cent.

Read: Could leftover coffee, tea and other drinks feed your plants?

And in further good news, if you prefer your coffee sweetened, you are just as likely to enjoy that lower risk – provided you’re not adding more than a teaspoon of sugar to each cup.

This wonderful news for coffee drinkers comes from a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The large cohort study, conducted by Dr Dan Liu at Jinan University in China, and colleagues, aimed to evaluate the consumption of sugar-sweetened, artificially sweetened, and unsweetened coffee with all-cause and cause-specific mortality.

Using baseline demographic, lifestyle and dietary data from the UK Biobank, the study took in 171,616 participants with an average age of 55.6. To be eligible, the participants had to be free of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Follow-up data from 2009 through to 2018 was then analysed.

Read: Are some types of coffee healthier than others?

During a median follow-up of seven years, 3177 deaths were recorded (including 1725 cancer deaths and 628 cardiovascular disease deaths). The study’s models showed what were referred to as ‘U-shaped associations’ between unsweetened coffee, sugar-sweetened coffee, and artificially sweetened coffee with mortality.

A U-shaped association refers to a risk curve that lowers and then rises as intake increases. Basically, this means a small amount of coffee lowers your risk, but as the intake level rises the risk goes from being lowered to neutral and then raised.

The results of the study revealed that those with a moderate intake of coffee – either unsweetened, or with no more than a teaspoon of sugar – had their risk of death lowered by between 16 and 30 per cent.

Read: Doctors obliterate cancer in new clinical trial

However, if you add more than a teaspoon of sugar or have super-sweetened coffees such as a caramel macchiato, you do not enjoy the benefits of that lower risk. And if you use an artificial sweetener, you might also be missing out, as the study showed that the association between artificially sweetened coffee and mortality was less consistent.

The study concluded that “moderate consumption of unsweetened and sugar-sweetened coffee was associated with lower risk for death”.

So if you’ve been indulging in a daily cappuccino, a couple of lattes each day, or a long black morning, midday and afternoon but have been feeling guilty for doing so, you can now continue your indulgence guilt free – at least from a health point of view.

The cost of your coffee is another matter altogether, but at least you’ll know that you might well be lengthening your life, which many would agree is worth the price of a couple of coffees daily.

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Andrew Gigacz
Andrew Gigaczhttps://www.patreon.com/AndrewGigacz
Andrew has developed knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income and government entitlements, as well as issues affecting older Australians moving into or living in retirement. He's an accomplished writer with a passion for health and human stories.
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