Some people joke that their daily coffee habit is an addiction. But scientists consider a cup of joe to be part of a healthy diet.
A new study by Harvard University researchers and colleagues suggests that people who drink about three to five cups of coffee per day are less likely to die prematurely from certain illnesses, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study found that moderate consumption of either caffeinated or non-caffeinated coffee reduced the risk of death from:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease
Lead author Ming Ding, a Harvard doctoral student, says that further studies are needed to determine how coffee produces these effects, but one possible explanation is that bioactive compounds in coffee reduce systemic inflammation and insulin resistance.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, insulin resistance is a medical condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. The condition can lead to various serious health disorders, including Type 2 diabetes.
The Harvard study was published this week in Circulation, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Heart Association. The study is based on data on tens of thousands of participants in three large ongoing studies.
American Heart Association spokesperson Alice H. Lichtenstein, a senior scientist at and director of Tufts University’s Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, tells CBS News that cream, sugar and syrupy sweeteners do not share coffee’s apparent benefits:
“If people use a lot of sugar and cream, particularly if they decide on the basis of these findings to have an extra cup or two of coffee per day, they are adding calories in the form we do not recommend.
“In that case, they should consider ramping down slowly, either decreasing the amount of sugar they add or shifting to a non-nutrient sweetening, and gradually shifting from cream to lower fat milk, or using less.”
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