American Society For Nutrition

A Jolt of News

A Jolt of News

Excellence in Nutrition Research and Practice
Posted on 05/24/2012 at 08:02:59 PM by Student Blogger
By Jessica Currier

“Ah”, there's nothing better then the fresh, bold scent of coffee awakening you first thing in the morning. The bursting flavor and jolt of energy keeps you coming back for more. Its warmth makes it a perfect addition to a nice chat with friends or family. I myself am an avid coffee drinker. It may come at no surprise that coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world following water. In the past, coffee has had the reputation of not being good for you. Recently, there have been statements saying that coffee provides added health benefits, so what exactly is the truth?
First off, I would like to discuss the proposed theories that coffee has been affiliated with. Coffee has been believed to cause an increased risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension, stroke, cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (1). Coffee has been thought to increase mortality in cardiovascular disease (CVD) patients (2). Also, the consumption of coffee may cause adverse effects with people who have hypertension (3). Lastly, many people believe that coffee is a diuretic (4).
With these startling claims, I knew I had to do some investigating on what was the real truth concerning my beloved cup of joe. Studies have been conducted and have shown that coffee does not increase the risk of chronic diseases like type II diabetes, myocardial infarction, stroke, and cancer (1). On the contrary, coffee has actually been found to decrease the chance of type II diabetes. Population studies suggest that those who consume four to six cups of coffee per day may actually be at a lower risk of type II diabetes (4). There are plausible reasons for this but a definite answer it yet to be found. One theory is that coffee may lower a plasma membrane enzyme ϒ-glutamyltransferase (GGT). High levels of GGT have been correlated with the onset of type II diabetes. GGT is a marker of oxidative stress and oxidative stress may initiate developing type II diabetes, (5).

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2011 looked at whether filtered coffee increases mortality in women with CVD. The findings were that coffee was not associated with CVD or increased mortality (2). In individuals with hypertension, blood pressure was increased for three hours after coffee was consumed. However, if regular consumption occurs, blood pressure does not increase (3). Lastly, one myth that needs to be busted is that coffee is a diuretic. This is not the case. If consumed on a regular basis and less then 500 to 600 mg (5 to 6 cups a day) is consumed, coffee will not act as a diuretic (6).

The American Society for Nutrition hosted a symposium on nutrition cognitive decline this past month at Experimental Biology in San Diego, CA, and had a speaker discuss the effects of caffeinated beverages including coffee and tea. Lenore Arab, nutritional epidemiologist, stated that there are promising results of the caffeinated beverages slowing cognitive decline according to observational, animal, and clinical data (6). We also must not forget that coffee offers antioxidants, magnesium, and B vitamins, which are essential for good health. To say that coffee is bad for you isn't valid anymore. With encouraging research being conducted and positive health benefits being found, coffee shouldn't totally be strayed away from. More research is needed for individuals with existing health conditions, like hypertension and type II diabetes, and the health effects from non-filtered coffee. For now, be cautious with the amount of added sugar and cream and start sipping!  

1)    Floegel Anna, Pischon Tobias, Bergmann Manuela, Teucher Birgit, Kaaks Rudolf, Boeing Heiner. Coffee consumption and risk of chronic disease in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95;787-788.
2)    Lopez-Garcia Esther, Rodriguez-Artalejo Fernando, Y Li Tricia, Mukamal Kenneth, Hu Frank, van Dam Rob. Coffee consumption and mortality in women with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95;901-908.
3)    Mesas Arthur, Leon-Munoz Luz, Rodriguez-Artalejo Fernando, Lopez-Garcia Esther. The effect of coffee on blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease in hypertensive individuals: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94;1113-1126.
4)    National Post. Cutting through the coffee confusion. Health, Life page. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2012. 
5)    Bidel S, Silventoinen K, Hu G, Lee DH, Kaprio J, Tuomilehto J. Coffee consumption, serum ϒ-glutamyltransferase and risk of type II diabetes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008; 62;178-185.
6)    Mayo Clinic. Caffeine: Is it dehydrating or not? Expert answers page. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2012.


I love coffee. I've seen nothing but good reports about it for years.

Green tea might be an even better alternative because while it has caffeine, it also has theanine, which acts as a precursor to GABA and inhibits nervous system jitters caused by coffee!