Coffee is the best “health drink”

Two new studies published in Annals of Internal Medicine strongly underscore something I’ve been pushing for years: If you really believe in consuming a “health drink”, something millions of people seem to believe is a habit they must follow, then nothing beats coffee, certainly not water, which is a beverage that generally contains little or no nutrient and which is something that a healthy person gets anyway often in great abundance from the things they eat.

So according to this not-surprising and widely-hyped research, coffee drinkers tend to have a higher life expectancy than people who don’t drink coffee.

What offers added strengths to these findings is that 1) similar results were found in numerous countries and ethnic groups and 2) the more coffee a person drinks (within reason, bien sur), the greater their life expectancy.

In other words, coffee is a health drink for nearly everyone everywhere.

Of course, these are observational studies meaning that this research cannot establish cause and effect: Perhaps it’s just that coffee drinkers are less stressed or happier (I’m sure this one is true) or richer (it takes lots of extra discretionary income to consume cappuccinos and lattes regularly) or whatever than people who avoid coffee, and it may be those factors that account for the difference in life expectancy seen in all the coffee studies.

I think, however, that it’s a real biological effect that coffee exerts, not just that we coffee-drinkers are better-looking or smarter.

Interestingly, too, this research hinted that decaf offers similar benefits to real coffee (decaf is not real coffee to me) meaning that if there is a true biological protective effect from coffee intake, it’s not the caffeine that produce it, more likely that it’s the multiple other nutrients – minerals, anti-oxidants – that coffee contains. (I have to add that results about decaf are always problematic because so few people drink decaf regularly).

Now, it’s extremely important to point out that no coffee-avoider should start drinking coffee with the hopes that this will offer a magic remedy to live longer.

You should drink coffee because you enjoy it, and if you don’t, well, too bad for you but don’t all of a sudden take it up for its health benefits.