The Myths About Coffee and Wine You Probably Still Believe
We are often bombarded with information about foods and substances that are supposed to be beneficial for their “protective” effects and their “nutritional benefits.”
But the advice and nutritional reviews we hear about certain foods seem to change all the time.
Coffee and red wine are among the most studied nutrients for their effects on human health. And we’ve already heard about them that they can have “harmful” or “beneficial” effects on our bodies.
What do the latest scientific studies say about these drinks?
coffee and death
That cup of coffee that is part of our daily routine can be associated with a longer life. Or at least that’s the conclusion of a study published in July in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which followed nearly 200,000 people for 10 years.
The researchers found that those who drank between 1.5 and 3.5 cups of coffee a day – even with a teaspoon of sugar – were 30% less likely to die during the study decade than those who didn’t drink coffee.
For those who drank coffee without sugar, the risk of death was between 16% and 21% lower. And those who had the lowest risk of death during the study period were those who drank three cups of coffee per day.
This isn’t the first study to find a lower risk of death among coffee drinkers. In 2018, another study that followed more than 500,000 people over 10 years found a 16% reduction in the risk of premature death.
Several studies have indicated this decrease even among those who drank decaffeinated coffee, suggesting that benefits may come from some of the thousands of compounds that coffee contains.
However, many people still think that coffee is harmful and that we should limit the consumption of this substance.
“Some time ago, our view of the impact of coffee on health changed drastically,” Esther Lopez-Garcia, professor of preventive medicine and public health at the Autonomous University of Madrid, tells the BBC.
López-García has participated in several studies on the effects of coffee on the development of cardiovascular diseases and disabilities.
“From 2003 onwards, studies began in large populations, where coffee consumption was measured regularly for years, and it was seen how this affected the risk of premature death, cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes,” he explains.
“It has been found that adapting to factors that also affect health, such as tobacco and alcohol use, and regular coffee consumption have no adverse effects. It has even been found to be beneficial in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes and stroke.”
“It has also been observed that the harmful effects of caffeine do not persist in regular consumers, who develop a tolerance to this sub-substance, and in it, the beneficial effects of other coffee components have a greater impact on health,” says the expert.
In several studies of coffee, evidence has emerged for its supposed protective effects against Parkinson’s disease, and it has also been said to protect against cognitive decline in general, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
But Professor Lopez Garcia emphasizes that “the strongest evidence for type 2 diabetes is for the rest of the diseases, it is still not clear.”
The professor explains that the beneficial effects of coffee are mainly due to the antioxidant: chlorogenic acid.
The Myths About Coffee and Wine You Probably Still Believe
It is an antioxidant that has many beneficial effects on glucose metabolism. It also contains other substances, such as magnesium, which is a mineral that has many health effects,” he says.
Perhaps part of the “bad picture” of coffee in the past is that caffeine can cause anxiety or insomnia. “All people with health problems that can be exacerbated by coffee consumption (insomnia, anxiety, uncontrolled high blood pressure, GERD or arrhythmia) should receive individual counseling,” Lopez Garcia adds.
The ‘protective effects’ of wine
Red wine is often presented as the “health face” of alcohol.
Several studies in recent decades have led us to believe that an “accidental” glass of wine is associated with better cardiovascular health due to its “protective” effects on the heart.
For example, a study published in 2019 in the scientific journal Molecules reports that red wine, due to the greater variety of polyphenolic compounds it contains, is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
But in January of this year, the World Heart Federation published a review of research showing that alcohol is definitely not good for cardiovascular health.
Miguel Marcos Martin explains: “It is true that there are studies linking alcohol consumption to potential health benefits, and this is controversial and inconclusive, but we cannot forget that many other studies clearly show that it is a substance with many harmful effects, even at low doses.” . , researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research in Salamanca.
“For all these reasons, consumption of any amount of alcohol or any type of beverage cannot be recommended at this time for health reasons.”
Martin claims that the message that red wine has “protective effects” for the heart “is advice that, in the first place, is clearly not based on scientific evidence because it has not been definitively proven to do so.”
“On the other hand, while it is true that wine has a protective effect against some diseases, we cannot forget about the side effects that are produced. Alcoholic beverages cause addiction, cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, etc.”
The argument for wine’s supposed protective effects on cardiovascular health is based on resveratrol, which is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. These substances are believed to act as antioxidants, protecting the body from cellular damage that can increase the risk of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
But, as the doctor from the University Hospital of Salamanca explains, it will be necessary to have much larger amounts of this compound than those found in doses of wine to achieve these health effects.
The possible positive effect of wine is attributed to both the ethanol molecule itself and resveratrol and other antioxidants. However, taking these substances separately has not been shown to have a positive effect on long-term health, so it is unclear that taking them in small amounts in wine can be beneficial to health,” he explains.
Many people tend to think that alcohol is more harmful to health when consumed in excess. But in fact, even moderate consumption, a glass of wine every day can have a negative effect on the body.
“Alcohol consumption in small doses (such as a glass of wine or beer) is associated with a small increase in the risk of developing tumors (such as tumors of the head, neck, breast or colon) as well as atrial fibrillation (a very common arrhythmia),” says Martin.