Don’t Get Jittery Over Studies: Our Favorite Beverage is Good for Us
By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Americans love coffee. We’re the world’s largest consumers of java – 83 percent of adults drink it. Our national average is three cups a day, per person. The history of coffee in America is a long one. The first coffee trader opened shop in Boston in 1670 and by 1688 coffee became the New York City’s breakfast drink of choice. (Before coffee? Beer was considered the best way to start your morning.) During the Civil War, soldiers went to the field with coffee beans as one of their primary rations. Coffee was a standard ration in World War I and World War II. Today, some coffee drinkers spend 45 hours a year waiting in line to get their daily cup from baristas.
Periodically, a study is published cautioning coffee drinkers to cut back or warning about dire health concerns. Last year, a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggested that drinking more than 28 cups of coffee per week elevated mortality risk in people under 55. Before you rush to the pantry and throw out your coffee grounds, take comfort in the study’s significant flaws. While the study began in 1971, the researchers only inquired about coffee consumption once, making it impossible to know if the habits of the people they were studying changed over time. Further, the study has been critiqued for not considering the effects of smoking. Many studies in the 1980s failed to adequately control for smoking, which caused coffee’s bad reputation (albeit a short lived one.)
If you’re one of the 83 percent of adults indulging in a cup of coffee (or three) every morning, you can take comfort in the bevy of studies that suggest a myriad of health benefits from your caffeine fix. Studies have linked regular coffee drinking with reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, dementia in later years, and several types of cancer (including skin, prostate, and oral cancer.)
That being said, an espresso at 10 p.m. is probably a bad idea. Drink coffee if you like it but cut yourself off when you get jittery or need to hit the hay soon. Avoid Frappuccinos and whipped cream covered lattes. The sugar (or chocolate, caramel, or vanilla syrups) you add to your drink contain lots of calories we could do without. Half and half may be your additive of choice, but the fat content makes it better suited to a weekend treat. (2 percent milk is a great balance between high fat choices, like whole milk, and skim.)
Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world, surpassed only by petroleum oil. The U.S. is the largest consumer nation so the type of coffee we buy has a big impact on the globe. Vote with your dollars and purchase sustainably grown coffee. Shade grown is a great indicator to look for on your bag of beans – coffee grown that way is better for soil quality, biodiversity, and reduces the need for destructive agrochemicals.
Farmers in Latin America work hard to grow coffee but only see a small fraction of the profit. Seek out coffee that’s close to farmers, like Thrive, a collective that shares revenue with the farmers. There’s already incredible information about coffee from bush to bean to cup, so read up if you’d like to learn more!
Want to learn more about coffee’s history in America? Pour yourself a cup of coffee and look no further than this infographic from National Geographic.