Coffee’s path has been a rather torturous one when it comes to a question that has been stalking it for years—is it good for us to drink it?
The latest verdict, according to a massive new study in Circulation, a scientific journal published by the American Heart Association, is not only is coffee is good for you, it’s really good for you.
This study, whose results were released in November, followed 200,000 doctors and nurses for up to 30 years and found a six percent reduced risk of death overall from one cup a day, an eight percent reduced risk of death from one to three cups, a 15 percent reduced risk from three to five cups, and a 12 percent reduction in risk of death from more than five cups. And, what’s more, there was little difference whether it was caffeinated or decaffeinated, proving that it is the nutrients in coffee, not the caffeine, which is having this healthful effect.
This massive study confirms in a big way numerous other studies over the past several years that have hinted that coffee is not the unhealthy drink some once thought it was.
Those who are old enough may recall the first warnings about coffee, way back in 1981. A Harvard study at the time tied the drink to a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Further investigation eventually showed a tie-in between smoking and the cancers. Nevertheless, the damage was done. A stigma always hung over coffee until the publication of more recent studies, beginning around 2008, started hinting that it was actually good for us.
At this point in time, I think it’s no exaggeration to conclude that coffee is now firmly in the healthy camp. Imagine that—a drink many of us love that is also good for us! Who woulda thought?
I’m writing this column having just written the cover story for this issue of Beverage World about the juice category, which seems to be undergoing a similar trajectory to coffee when it comes to that question—is juice good for us to drink? The big issue about juice, especially what have traditionally been its most popular types, like orange, grapefruit and apple, revolves around their high sugar content. These juices can contain a lot of natural sugar, leading some in the medical community to advise against consuming too much of them. James Tonkin, president of the consultancy firm Healthy Brand Builders spoke with me at length while I was researching my cover story. He pointed out that some experts believe sugar is sugar, and it doesn’t matter what form it takes—be wary of consuming too much of it. Others see the nutritive value of juice, and the fact that its sugar is natural, outweighing any negative effects. “Is it a good thing?” Tonkin asks. “I think that’s really the discussion right now.”
So, with the debate about coffee now receding into the past, expect the debate about the healthfulness of juice to now take center stage.