Can consuming coffee lengthen your life?

Coffee can certainly feel life-giving on a Monday morning, but some coffees might be more life-giving than others. A new long-term study published by the European Society of Cardiologysuggests that coffee can actually lengthen your life, but only if you prepare it with a filter.

Over the past two decades researchers followed a representative sample of the Norwegian population – more than half a million men and women in all – and recorded details of their coffee consumption. They also collected data on other factors that might affect long-term heart health, such as smoking, physical activity, education, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

In the study, drinking filtered coffee notched up a 15 per cent reduced risk of death compared to drinking no coffee at all, and consumers of one to four cups of filtered coffee a day presented the lowest mortality of any group.

“Our study provides strong and convincing evidence of a link between coffee brewing methods, heart attacks and longevity,” said study author Professor Dag S. Thelle, from the University of Gothenburg. “Unfiltered coffee contains substances which increase blood cholesterol. Using a filter removes these and makes heart attacks and premature death less likely.”

The study claims to be the first to look at links between brewing methods and long-term health, and even unfiltered coffee drinking does not come out looking like a dangerous habit. Compared to no coffee, drinking unfiltered coffee only affected risk of death in men aged 60 and over, who recorded increased cardiovascular mortality.

The data is observational, but Prof. Thelle was keen to emphasise the study’s depth and breadth. “The finding that those drinking the filtered beverage did a little better than those not drinking coffee at all could not be explained by any other variable such as age, gender, or lifestyle habits,” he says. “So, we think this observation is true.

“For people who know they have high cholesterol levels and want to do something about it,” he continues, “stay away from unfiltered brew, including coffee made with a cafetière. For everyone else, drink your coffee with a clear conscience and go for filtered.”

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and some health professionals claim it to be one of the healthiest. For some people, their daily coffee consumption is the largest source of antioxidants in the diet.

Along with drinking filter coffee if you have high cholesterol, here are a few tips to ensure your coffee is the healthiest it can be.

Don’t add sugar
Added sugar is arguably one of the worst elements of the modern Western diet; it’s linked to many serious diseases including obesity and diabetes.

Coffee can quickly become a vehicle for sugar and transform from a healthy, stimulating beverage into a sweet, sugary treat. A teaspoon of sugar in your coffee may not seem like much but can be a major source of extra calories when added up over the months, and too much sugar can effectively eliminate the health benefits of the coffee.

If you can’t imagine life without a little sweetness in your coffee, try a natural sweetener like stevia.

Choose a quality brand of coffee, organic if possible
Different processing and growing methods between brands mean quality varies greatly from brand to brand. Coffee plants, along with other produce, are often sprayed with synthetic pesticides to keep critters at bay. Even though there is little evidence that these cause harm to humans when ingested in small amounts, find an organic coffee source to be on the safe side.

Try adding some cinnamon
Studies show that cinnamon can lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetics. It pairs very well with coffee, so for a flavour and health boost try adding a dash of cinnamon.

Be sure not to add too much though! In large doses, cinnamon can have adverse side effects, and interact with some medications.

Avoid artificial creamers
Maybe not as popular in Australia as other countries, but artificial creamers tend to be highly processed and packed with questionable ingredients. Arguably, whole, natural foods are always a better choice and dairy is an excellent source of calcium, which supports bone health, so consider adding full-fat cream or milk, preferably from grass-fed cows if possible. Alternatively, stick with non-dairy milk such as soy, almond or oat milk.

Avoid drinking it too late in the day
If you are sensitive to caffeine, drinking it too late in the day can interfere with your sleep. Avoiding caffeine after 3 pm is a good guideline, but if you are not as caffeine sensitive, you may be able to have a cup closer to bedtime without sleep being impacted.

How do you take your coffee?

With PA

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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