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Is Coffee Healthy or Unhealthy?

author image Chad Stone
Chad Stone is a medical scientist based in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2003, Dr. Stone has has published high-profile articles on the molecular mechanisms of cardiovascular disease and cancer in journals such as Blood and the Journal of the American Heart Association. Dr. Stone is a specialist in blood biology as well as cancers of breast, colon, kidney and other tissues.
Is Coffee Healthy or Unhealthy?
pregnancy and coffee do not mix well. Photo Credit FtLaudGirl/iStock/Getty Images

A number of popular myths exist about the healthy and unhealthy aspects of drinking coffee. In general, drinking coffee on its own in moderation is good for your health. Coffee may help to prevent a number of chronic diseases of aging, such as heart disease and cancer. Coffee can also benefit your mood and help to fight off depression. Coffee consumption is associated with minor risks for pregnant mothers. If you are pregnant you may want to limit your coffee consumption.

Antioxidants And Heart Disease

Coffee contains high levels of antioxidant molecules that may help to prevent many of the chronic disease of aging such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. Coffee is the primary source of antioxidants for Americans. This report recommends drinking 1 cup of coffee each day to get a heart-healthy dose of antioxidants. Coffee can temporarily raise your blood pressure, so, if you have high blood pressure, it may be best to drink coffee in moderation.

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Coffee And Cholesterol

In some cases coffee may raise your cholesterol levels and can contribute to heart disease. Coffee contains some compounds that increase cholesterol levels in your body. These compounds disappear when you filter caffeinated coffee through a paper filter but are still present in unfiltered espresso drinks. Interestingly, decaffeinated coffee is particularly rich in these cholesterol-raising compounds and can raise cholesterol levels significantly more than caffeinated coffee. If your cholesterol levels are too high, you may want to avoid decaf coffee and drink only filtered coffee drinks.


In addition to protecting against heart disease, the antioxidants in coffee may also reduce your risk of developing many types of common cancers. A clinical study published by “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention” shows that consumption of coffee is associated with a decreased risk of cancer of the head, throat and neck. Similar studies show that drinking coffee may prevent other cancers such as brain cancer.


Coffee may also help to prevent diabetes. Coffee may improve insulin sensitivity and prevent high blood sugar. This report also explains that people who drink several cups of coffee each day are 35 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Coffee And Pregnancy

Despite the good news that coffee can prevent many chronic health conditions, there are some potentially negative effects of coffee and caffeine consumption, particularly for pregnant mothers. Drinking caffeinated coffee may increase risk of low birth weight or having a premature delivery or miscarriage. In addition to these potential risks, coffee can also restrict blood flow to the fetus to have negative effects on baby development.

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