“I like my coffee hot and fresh.” —Flo Bernstein, Age 98

As I started this blog about Sweets, I’d like to tell you that some of the inspiration I get for writing topics comes from my perusal of articles I receive every day from what’s trending on FlipBoard, an app I read on my tablet every night after work. Daily, I am bombarded with articles supportive of many of the healthy aging strategies I included in my book The Power of Five.

As I looked for inspiration for this blog about Sweets, I came across an article that is not necessarily about food but has to do with our nutrition and what we can do to live healthier and longer lives. Thus, I address the health benefits of Coffee. Yes, I said Coffee!

I haven’t always been an avid coffee drinker, but I would say in the last 30 years I’ve consumed my share without overindulging. I’m also not a discerning aficionado of coffee. I tend to be frugal, and I consume for the health benefits and the caffeine, not the status on the label.

My interest in coffee began in 2015 during breakfast with an old friend and role model, David Fisher. Over breakfast, which included coffee, he presented his research findings which supported the benefits of coffee consumption.

David co-wrote a book with Dr. Sanjiv Chopra titled The Big Five. In the book, he presented some of the data he had researched. It was compelling and thought-provoking. (I left the subject for him to highlight in his book and left it out of mine. Besides, I’d already had my five items selected by then!)

In an article by Bill Murphy, Jr. which appeared in Inc. Magazine entitled “Science Says Drinking Coffee Helps People Slow Aging, Lose Weight, and Cheat Death. These Fascinating Studies Explain Why It’s a Miracle Drink,” he points out five compelling beneficial effects of coffee which he has learned.

  1. Drinking coffee reduces your risk of death from many causes.
  2. It’s linked to lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and even suicide.
  3. It prompts your body to burn fat. Yay!
  4. It appears to counteract part of the aging process.
  5. It suggests improvements in brain health and a lower risk of age-related cognitive decline.

In other articles I’ve read on this subject, it appears as though there’s something about coffee itself which promotes these benefits and not the caffeine. When studies have been done comparing caffeinated energy drinks or other caffeinated drinks without coffee, the previously-stated benefits disappear.

Many of my patients seem to think hazardous effects from coffee include their elevated blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances. Some reported to me that their symptoms disappear after they have eliminated their caffeinated beverage consumption. The data is not necessarily supportive of these reports.

I believe from my research in this area coffee consumption has beneficial effects. Furthermore, a healthy-eating lifestyle certainly can include consumption of coffee, caffeinated or decaffeinated, for added benefits.

Remember, what you put in your coffee matters! Drink your coffee black or with a healthy nonfat, non-dairy product such as almond or cashew milk. Even a low-fat variety of regular milk is a good choice. Adding sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial creams and/or high-fat whipped cream offsets any benefits and creates more harm.

So for a healthy beverage option, a cup or two of java a day is a beneficial choice!

To a long and healthy life,

David Bernstein, M.D.

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