Fact Check By: Craig Jones, Newswise



Research has found that drinking two to three cups of coffee – ground, instant, decaffeinated – could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and so be linked to a longer life.

Claim Publisher and Date: The Guardian (and other publications) on 2022-09-27

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Here in the United States and in 17 other countries, September 29th is celebrated as National Coffee Day. For the rest of the world, October 1st is International Coffee Day.  It is all about celebrating a love of the caffeinated beverage made from the beans of the tropical evergreen coffee plant and paying respect to the world’s coffee farmers. 

The possible health benefits of coffee have been percolating in the news for years: Coffee can lower your risk for diabetes, coffee may protect against disease and even some cancers. More recently, headlines claim that coffee can extend your life or reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Good news, coffee lovers. The claim is mostly true.   

New research showed that people that drank two to three cups of coffee a day appear to live longer. The study also found that there was a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. All types of coffee, including ground, instant, and decaf, appeared to provide this health benefit. The research was published on September 27, 2022, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

Maya Vadivloo backs the claim that coffee is good for you, with some caveats. She is the Associate Professor and Director in Health Sciences Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at the University of Rhode Island. Vadivloo is an expert on nutrition, appearing often on such outlets as Today.com.

“Based on existing evidence, I would say it is mostly true that coffee consumption appears to protect against cardiovascular and total mortality, with a few caveats.  I believe evidence remains inconclusive about intake >5 cups/day and that the method of preparation may matter, with some question about whether compounds released when boiling coffee (vs. drip or similar methods) may be less favorable (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7524812/).”

For those who don’t drink our coffee black, are the benefits still there after we add flavorings such as sugar or cream? “The addition of milk etc. to coffee does not eliminate all health benefits,” says Vadiveloo.  “However, in line with other recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern, limiting forms of added sugar and replacing high-fat dairy with low-fat products would be better for health outcomes and energy balance.”

Is coffee the magic bullet that will help us live longer, healthier lives? Not quite, says Vadiveloo.

“While I love coffee, I am always cautious of media coverage that suggests there is some 'magic bullet' to improve mortality. While I believe there is compelling evidence that 2-3 cups (or even <5 cups of coffee) have cardioprotective and mortality benefits, it's not a recommendation that exists in isolation.  Regular coffee consumption when part of a heart-healthy diet rich in minimally processed fruits, vegetables, healthy sources of protein (mostly plant sources like nuts and legumes, seafood, and fish), whole grains, heart-healthy vegetable oils, and limited in added sugars, salt, and high fat meats as advocated by the recent American Heart Association dietary guidance (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIR.0000000000001031) is the secret to improving overall health and mortality. (**disclaimer, I was a part of the AHA writing group)

So I would say, if people enjoy coffee, they should continue to do so as part of a healthy dietary pattern, and to be mindful of what things they add to their coffee to maximize the health benefits.  And further, if people want to replace less healthy beverages in their diet (e.g., sodas and fruit juices) with coffee, that would be a positive step.”

Christopher H. Hendon (aka Dr. Coffee), Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Oregon weighs in on the health benefits of coffee:

The health benefits vs. risks are always brought up because people like coffee and people also don't like to be told the thing they like is unhealthy. So there is very little in coffee drinks made without milk, sugar, or other adjacent products. Black coffee contains a variety of bioactive compounds, none of which are worth talking about because the mass of organic material consumed when drinking coffee is ~4 g per cup. Caffeine makes up 150 - 250 mg per cup. Anyway, some compounds are bad for you - acrylamide, etc. Some are good for you - phenolic antioxidants, etc.