As a Starbucks nation, we spend a lot of calories and cash on designer coffee drinks, but could there be a health benefit to all the caffeine we routinely consume?
A recent article by Joahanna M. Geleijnse, a researcher in the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, suggests there may be. After reviewing dozens upon dozens of studies, Geleijnse makes three primary assertions: (1) Research on long-term consumption of filtered (as opposed to pressed) coffee does not indicate that such use negatively affects blood pressure. (2) Though it is not yet conclusive, occasional coffee drinkers (1-2 cups a day) may be the group at greatest risk of high blood pressure related to caffeine use. (3) Finally, data reveals a U-shaped relation between habitual coffee intake and hypertension: those who abstain altogether and those—women in particular—who drink, what many would consider, an excessive amount, 4 or more cups of coffee daily, may actually reduce their risk of hypertension.
So much for what Franklin said about moderation.
According to Geleijnse, tossing out altogether our Folgers or forgoing our ritual grande white mocha is not necessarily the solution to preventing hypertension. She is careful though to point out that more research must be done before final conclusions can be drawn on the relationship between habitual filtered coffee consumption and hypertension. In addition to the need for further investigation into the blood pressure raising properties of caffeine, she calls for a closer look at the other potentially beneficial ingredients in coffee, such as polyphenols, soluble fiber, and potassium.
In the meantime, drink at your own risk.
Geleijnse, Johanna M. “Habitual Coffee Consumption and Blood Pressure: An Epidemiological Perspective.” Vascular Health Risk Management. 4:5 (October 2008): 963-970.