Coffee is one of the world’s most widely consumed foods. A German drinks on average more than 140 L of coffee per year. Thus, the consumption of coffee is even before that of mineral water (137 L/a), beer (105.5 L/a), and fruit juice (33.2 L/a). This raises the question if daily coffee consumption may contribute to health prevention or if one has to warn, as done in the past, of regular consumption of coffee due to potentially adverse effects.
Elke Richling and Michael Habermeyer, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany, summarize the pros and cons: Nowadays, more than 1000 compounds have been identified in coffee so far. Altogether, there is compelling evidence for positive health effects of moderate (3–4 cups per day) coffee consumption. Positive correlations were reported for risks of type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Cancer risk is in general not increased, yet for some cancers even reduced risks were reported.
Regular coffee consumption leads to a pickup of about 1 g of antioxidants per day, mainly chlorogenic acids and melanoidins. Coffee is thus next to fruits, vegetables, and tea a major source of antioxidants. Coffee is also an important source of the vitamin niacin (nicotinamide, vitamin B3) which is involved in many metabolic processes.
The authors conclude that, despite the discussed occurrence of contaminants like acrylamide, furan or ochratoxin A, coffee consumption may be considered with an overall positive effect on human health.
- Eine Nutzen-Risiko-Betrachtung, Ist Kaffeetrinken gesund?,
Elke Richling, Michael Habermeyer,
Chem. Unserer Zeit 2014, 48, 12–20.