Is there heart trouble brewing in your coffeepot?
It never ceases to amaze me how many millions of long-suffering taxpayers' dollars are spent on worthless pseudo science. The latest "research" done on coffee is just another propaganda piece masquerading as a scientific report.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that people who drank two or more cups of coffee per day had more abnormalities in blood vessel function than non-coffee drinkers. Apparently the coffee and heart disease connection remained strong even after taking other so-called heart disease factors into account, such as smoking, obesity, and age.
But Alice Lichtenstein, D.Sc., senior scientist and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Boston's Tufts University, has a different opinion. She says the lifestyle differences between the coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers are so great that it would be difficult for the researchers to take these into account.
For example, WebMD Medical News reported that "In the study, people who drank two or more cups of coffee per day were almost nine times more likely than non-coffee drinkers to smoke cigarettes. They were also 2.5 times as likely to be obese. In general, people who drank no coffee also tended to be younger than those who drank coffee."
According to WebMD, "[Lichtenstein] adds that java junkies can probably relax if they drink coffee in moderation and reserve the cream- and sugar-laden specialty coffees for special occasions. While coffee itself has no calories, the 'tall' version of, say, a double-mocha latte with whipped cream can contain more calories, fat, and sugar than a typical fast-food meal."
Lichtenstein, who is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association (AHA), has it right about the sugar (often ignored in these epidemiological studies) but wrong about the "fat" and "cream." This is the typical AHA, politically-correct nutrition line. It fits in with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's disastrous food pyramid, whose suggestions, in reality, only serve to fatten Americans. (In my opinion, it should be called the "fat pyramid" instead.)
The dietary intake of coffee was determined by "food frequency questionnaires." These questionnaires are extremely unreliable and should not be used by any investigative body claiming to be scientific. After all, most people can't even remember what they had for breakfast yesterday.
Action to take:
I recommend taking these kinds of epidemiological studies with a grain of salt-and a cup of sugar-free coffee with heavy cream.
In reality, the only condition this report mentioned that has been proven to be dangerous to your health is old age. Try to avoid it. RHB
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005; 81(6):1307-12