Coffee could boost health, say scientists

People who drink coffee may live longer than those who don’t, according to a new study of half a million people across 10 European countries, including the UK.

Coffee contains a number of compounds that can interact with the body, including caffeine, diterpenes and antioxidants. The ratios of these compounds can be affected by the method used to prepare coffee.

However, researchers from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Imperial College London found that higher levels of coffee consumption could have a protective health effect for people, however it is made.

“We found that higher coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from any cause, and specifically for circulatory diseases, and digestive diseases,” said lead author Dr Marc Gunter of the IARC.

Due to the limitations of their observational research, “we are not at the stage of recommending people to drink more or less coffee”, Dr Gunter added. “That said, our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking – up to around three cups per day – is not detrimental to your health, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits.”

Studies in the US and Japan have produced similar results, but some experts highlighted that it was impossible to pinpoint coffee as the only factor. It could be because coffee drinkers have a healthier lifestyle, for example, or that socialising at the local café improves their wellbeing somehow.

As an analysis on the NHS Choices website concluded: “The media like to run stories on one single drink or ‘superfood’ that will ‘guarantee’ good health. This, of course, is nonsense: the only way to increase your chances of leading a longer, healthier life is to have a healthy balanced diet and exercise regularly.”

Still, the coverage will be a boost for a coffee sector already in rude health.

Between 2015 and 2016 coffee shop sales shot up 10.4% – the biggest year-on-year boost in the last five years, according to Mintel. In the next five years sales are expected to grow a further 29%, to reach £4.3 billion.

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