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Coffee drinkers may live longer

cup of coffee against a pastel blue background

Coffee lovers will be happy with a new study that associates their daily habit, whether enjoyed with a little sugar or not, with a lowered risk of premature death.

The large Chinese study adds to previous evidence of coffee consumption being associated with a lower risk of early death, compared with not drinking coffee, but has a slightly different spin because the researchers also looked at whether adding sugar to your coffee makes a difference.

The results show coffee drinkers were less likely to die during a seven-year follow-up period than non-coffee drinkers, regardless of whether they added sugar to their brew or not.

The researchers found participants who drank any amount of unsweetened coffee were 16 to 21 per cent less likely to die, during the seven-year follow up period, than participants who did not drink coffee. And participants who drank 1.5 to 3.5 daily cups of coffee sweetened with sugar were 29 to 31 per cent less likely to die than non-coffee drinkers.

But the results for those who sweetened their coffee with artificial sweeteners were less clear, the researchers say.

They note that those who drank sugar-sweetened coffee usually added only about 1 teaspoon of sugar, so the effects may be different for people who are a bit heavy handed with the sugar spoon.

Study limitations

The study was observational so proves correlation not causation. While adjustments were made for confounding variables, such as diet, socioeconomic status and other lifestyle factors, these differences can be difficult to measure.

Healthy Food Guide takeaway

If you enjoy a daily brew (or two) this study and others show no need to try to break the habit, even if you add a spoonful of sugar to your coffee. But it’s worth remembering, the World Health Organization recommends limiting your daily free sugar intake to no more than 6 teaspoons a day, and your sweetened coffee will count towards your daily total.

Retraining your tastebuds to enjoy flavours without added sweetness will help curb cravings for foods that might not be the healthiest first choice.

Previous studies have shown moderate coffee consumption (up to four cups a day) is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, lower likelihood of developing depression and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and reduced cancer risk.

Article sources and references

Date modified: 2 June 2022
First published: Jun 2022


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