Moderate coffee consumption may be associated with a reduction in the risk of certain diseases,” food scientist says.
New York, NY – The good news about coffee and health keeps getting better, according to a food science expert who spoke at a symposium here. According to James Coughlin Ph.D., toxicologist and consultant in food safety, “The preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption – that is three to five cups a day – may be associated with a reduction in the risk of certain diseases.”
The symposium, Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Genes, Nutrition, and Health, was held here to introduce science writers to nutrigenomics, the new study of how foods affect our genes and how individual genetic differences affect the way we respond to nutrients in foods.
Dr. Coughlin told the group that habitual consumption of five or more cups of coffee a day has been associated with improved glucose regulation and a marked lower risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. That means that there is a 35% to 75% lower risk of developing the disease as shown in studies in the United States, Japan and Europe. Even drinking three to four cups of coffee a day will lower an individual’s diabetes risk. The protection afforded by coffee exists whether one drinks caffeine-containing or decaffeinated coffees; this positive effect may be the result of coffee’s natural polyphenolic antioxidants, magnesium and lignans.
Liver disease is also affected positively by drinking coffee. The toxicologist said, “Coffee consumption has been associated with a clinically significant reduced risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis.” He said there are data that suggest the reduced risk of alcohol cirrhosis could be associated with the phenolics and related substances in coffee.
The scientist told the science writers that coffee might play a role in cancer protection, also due to its naturally occurring polyphenolic antioxidants as well as heat-produced antioxidants. He said that there are studies from a number of countries that have shown that coffee is the major single source of dietary antioxidants – far more than tea, wine, chocolate, and individual fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, some coffee components can induce the expression of carcinogen-detoxifying enzymes, he noted.
Coffee seems to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, according to epidemiological studies. Dr. Coughlin said, “Some research in neuropharmacology suggests that only one cup of coffee a day – that amounts to 80 to 140 mg of caffeine – can halve the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. This might be because caffeine’s adenosine-blocking power may be one mechanism through which the brain cells in Parkinson’s disease are protected or conserved.”
Dr. Coughlin told the attendees, “Numerous other studies have shown that drinking coffee increases your mental alertness, cognitive functions, physical stamina and wakefulness. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, gallstones, kidney stones, depression and suicide.
“There is a long established history of the safe use of coffee, and the newest detailed studies and re-examinations of old issues have been quite reassuring,” Dr. Coughlin noted. “Coffee and caffeine should already be recognized for their positive health benefits and potential functional food attributes. You can forget about coffee being bad for you, it’s actually good for you.”