Anna Gragert
November 17, 2015 2:06 pm

Coffee is one substance that has a lot of nicknames. There’s java, mud, joe, cup o’ joe, caffeine, cuppa, and you most likely have your own special, not-yet-known pet name for this energy-boosting treat (perhaps “giver of life”?). However, Science seems to be prompting an entirely new synonym for this popular drink: the serum of longevity.

That’s right. A recent study says that coffee drinkers may live longer than those who do not partake in coffee-based rituals.  For close to three decades, 200,000 nurses, health professionals, and doctors were repeatedly surveyed in the United States. During the experiment, about 32,000 participants sadly passed away.

Once those 30 years were up, the researchers realized that those who drank 1-5 cups of coffee over the course of a day were less likely to pass away during the trial – especially when health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure were considered. Then, scientists looked at nonsmokers and noticed that people who drank 3-5 cups of coffee, per day, were 15% less likely to die during the investigation when compared to those who stayed away from coffee. The heaviest coffee drinkers (5+ cups every day) were compared to nondrinkers and demonstrated a 12% lower death risk.

“The body of evidence does suggest coffee can fit into a healthy lifestyle,” said Dr. Frank Hu (who’s a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Boston’s Harvard School of Public Health). The doctor also mentioned that the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines have already included these results, stating that 3-5 cups of coffee per day can be part of a health diet.

When it comes to specific health problems, coffee AND decaf coffee, drinkers are less likely to deal with (and die from) heart disease, diabetes, liver cancer, suicide, and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Then again, Professor Hu made it clear that other factors may explain the connection between coffee one’s life span. His team did take a look at many of these facets, but the coffee benefit still remained at the end of their tests.

Most importantly, one’s lifestyle is key. If you barely get any sleep at night and use coffee to help you perform during the day, that’s not ideal. On the other hand, it’s better if you exercise, get a proper night’s sleep, and eat a balanced diet that incorporates a bit of coffee. In other words: coffee should not be used as a crutch. You still have to take care of yourself and cannot depend on coffee to fix any bad habits.

The American Heart Association’s spokesperson Alice Lichtenstein agreed with this logic, stating, “This doesn’t mean you should start drinking coffee in the hopes of getting health benefits.” She also added that, on the other hand, coffee isn’t as bad as everyone thinks it is: “There’s this lingering idea that coffee must be bad for you because it’s enjoyable. It’s almost like we’ve been trying to find something wrong with it.”

Lichtenstein pointed out that you need to watch what you’re putting in your coffee. She said that some milk is fine, but don’t go overboard on the sugar and heavy cream.

Now, you’re probably wondering: Why coffee? What’s so great about coffee? This study’s leader said that other research has shown that compounds in coffee can act as antioxidants, improve blood sugar regulation, and reduce inflammation. There’s also evidence that caffeine can help those who cope with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.

The moral of the story: if you refer to coffee as your best friend, that’s great! But don’t rely on that best friend to help you extend your life span (because that’s way too much pressure on a BFF).

[Image via Shutterstock]

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