A rigorous new study that examined the health effects of coffee consumption found good news and bad news for coffee lovers.
The research showed that coffee has striking effects on physical activity levels, causing people to move more, taking, on average, 1,000 extra steps a day — a significant boost in activity that might help explain why coffee consumption has long been linked to better health.
But the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, did find some downsides to a daily cuppa. It showed that people lost about 36 minutes of nightly sleep on days when they drank coffee — and the more coffee they drank, the less they slept.
The research also looked at coffee’s effect on heart palpitations, a relatively common experience for healthy coffee drinkers. The study found that in healthy men and women, coffee did not cause a common type of palpitation known as premature atrial contractions, even though some health authorities have warned that this could be a side effect of drinking coffee.
But coffee consumption can lead to an increase in another type of heart palpitation, known as premature ventricular contractions. These extra or irregular heartbeats are fairly common and benign. Almost everyone experiences them on occasion, and while they can be unnerving, most experts say they’re not usually a cause for concern in healthy people.
The findings suggest that the health effects of coffee are complex. While coffee is beneficial for many people and can lower the risk of chronic diseases and perhaps even extend your life span, it can also disrupt your sleep and may cause some heart palpitations.
For me, my morning starts with about two cups of Peet’s French Roast coffee. We even take it on the road with us. For car trips, we take our own coffee maker, as well as a toaster.
I am not a big Starbucks fan. I prefer trying small, local purveyors of coffee. Given the choice, I always choose the small guy!
My best coffee story? Sheri, Mike and I were traveling in Laos, when we went to the morning wet market. We decided to have a cup of coffee in the market, so we sat down on an old wooden plank. The coffee vendor “brewed” his coffee with hot water in a pot with a long stem. He then proceeded to hold a foot long athletic sock with one hand, while he deftly poured hot coffee into the sock with his other hand. It was an amazing display of hand eye coordination, and crazy danger. It was the most interesting cups of coffee in our lives!
My favorite coffee city is not Seattle, it is Athens, Greece. Everyone makes a good, strong cup of coffee there!