Coffee - healthy or harmful to health?

Coffee - healthy or harmful to health?

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The Turkish word kahve comes from the Arabic word qahwa and means "stimulating drink", but is also based on the Kaffa region in Ethiopia, from which the coffee originally came. We know our morning coffee as a stimulant and as a caffeine donor that helps against fatigue. "C, A, F, F, E, E, don't drink so much coffee" warns an old children's song, and to this day myths have arisen about how dangerous coffee is. However, new scientific evidence shows that regular coffee drinking can even have a healing effect. The most important facts:

  • Coffee beans have an antioxidant effect, soothes and stimulates at the same time.
  • Caffeine counteracts the development of cancer.
  • Filter coffee prevents diabetes II and heart diseases.
  • High doses of caffeine stimulate the production of stomach acid and can contribute to acidification. Slight psychological dependence is possible.


A mug of coffee contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine. This caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, so the body releases more dopamine. That increases concentration. However, the opposite occurs with a large amount of coffee consumed: the concentration decreases. Instead of calming down as initially, those affected become hyperactive. Science has not yet found out why.


In order to avoid the reverse effect and to continuously increase the concentration through coffee, you should drink small amounts of coffee over breakfast rather than several cups during the day. This is especially true for people who work at night. In other words: if you take a thermos of coffee with you during the night shift and sip it from time to time, you are doing it right.

Is coffee harmful? Myths and facts

Myth 1) Coffee increases cholesterol and blood pressure!

Studies show that drinking coffee regularly does not affect blood pressure. Filter coffee does not affect the cholesterol level either: to raise it slightly, you would have to chew coffee beans or coffee powder, and in large quantities.

In 2003, the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute withdrew a warning that people with high blood pressure should drink little coffee. A study of 150,000 women showed no connection between coffee consumption and high blood pressure.

Myth 2) Coffee is not a drink because it draws fluid from the body!

No, coffee is a "normal" drink. You can rate the cup of coffee as a liquid intake just like juices, spritzers or lemonade. Caffeine has a draining effect. With regular intake of similar amounts of coffee, the diuresis levels off.

Myth 3) Coffee harms the cells!

The opposite is the case. Coffee contains polyphenols that protect the body's cells, and, as mentioned earlier, caffeine helps dispose of cancer-prone cells.

Myth 4) Coffee is generally harmful!

The food chemist Thomas Hofmann from Wilhelms University says: “The statement that coffee is generally harmful is no longer valid today. (…) In the past, negative effects of individual coffee ingredients were sometimes transferred to the overall coffee complex. ”

The German Green Cross stated in 2009: “Regular consumption of three, four or more cups of coffee has a positive influence on numerous organs and bodily functions. In some diseases, coffee even seems to have a clear preventive or protective effect. In principle, coffee does not have to be dispensed with in most cases for medical reasons. In individual cases, however, you should consult a doctor again. This is especially true for women during pregnancy. "


Coffee has an antioxidant effect, opens the cells and promotes blood circulation. The brown drink is the most important antioxidant in the USA. There are a number of vegetables and fruits that contain more antioxidants, but people in America do not eat enough of them. Green coffee has the highest proportion of certain antioxidants in the form of chlorogenic acid among all foods.

Caffeine for cancer?

The researcher Paul Nghiem from the University of Washington argues that the caffeine contained in coffee and black tea protects against skin cancer. For example, human skin cells prepared with the caffeine mutated into cancer cells less frequently than untreated ones after UV radiation. According to Nghiem, the caffeine acts on an enzyme that removes waste products in the cells. If this enzyme is active, the cells destroy themselves. This only happened with cells that were damaged by UV radiation. In other words, the caffeine made sure that endangered cells did not develop into cancer cells.

A ten-year study from Tokyo also found that only 214 out of 100,000 people who drink coffee develop kidney cancer, in contrast to 514 who don't drink coffee. The antioxidants in coffee are said to protect against oxygen radicals that trigger cancer. Even more: the higher the coffee consumption, the better the prevention.

The University of Ottawa also found that several cups of coffee reduce breast cancer risk in women by up to 70 percent and also protect against bladder and colon cancer. Caffeine is also said to significantly improve the effect of chemotherapy.

Depression, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

Drinking coffee lowers the risk of developing depression. This suggests at least one study of over 50,000 older American women. Since caffeine boosts the release of dopamine, coffee enjoyment is also seen as a way to prevent Parkinson's, as is Alzheimer's.

Lust killer or sexual enhancer

Since coffee conquered Europe in modern times, scientists and gossip journalists have been discussing the effects on potency. In 1923, a man named Amantea claimed that he had proven that coffee increases sex drive, lets us experience orgasm more intensely, and increases the amount of sperm. However, nothing was proven. A new study from 2006 only showed that caffeine increases the sex drive in rats. Science cannot say whether coffee consumption affects potency in humans.

Anti-cough honey coffee

Iranians swear by a paste of honey and coffee powder against irritable cough. An Iranian study demonstrated the effectiveness of this home remedy. Even more: this paste works even better than cortisone, at least that's what pulmonologists from the German Lung Foundation in Hanover say, who followed the study.
The pulmonologist Dr. Morr states: "Up to a quarter of patients experience a chronic cough after a cold or upper respiratory tract infection, which is defined by the fact that it affects the quality of life of those affected by a constant scratching of the throat and sudden onset of coughing fits three weeks or even several months. "
Prof. Morr continues: “Honey is one of the oldest known remedies that our grandparents already knew how to recommend. Coffee also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. A combination of these two natural remedies, which has not been used in medical literature, has now proven to be highly effective against post-infectious cough. It does not have to be emphasized that this combination is at the same time much cheaper than other drugs and has fewer side effects. ”(

Heart disease and diabetes

A "Coffee and Lipoprotein Metabolism study" 2005 in the USA came to the conclusion: Caffeine coffee has no negative effect on pulse rate, body mass index, blood sugar level, insulin quantity and blood sugar values. Another study of 45,000 men confirmed that coffee consumption poses no risk of coronary or cerebral vascular diseases.

A study of over 120,000 men and women showed that more than six cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes - men by 50 percent and women by 30 percent. However, the researchers could not rule out that lifestyle habits of coffee drinkers could also play a role, in contrast to people who do not drink coffee.

A 2006 study showed that the anti-diabetes effect applies to both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The preventive effect can therefore not be attributed to caffeine, but rather, for example, to antioxidants, polyphenols or minerals.

Negative effects of coffee consumption

Caffeine can lead to mild psychological dependence. Withdrawal symptoms include: dissatisfaction, fatigue, depressed moods, difficulty concentrating and light-headedness. Caffeine stimulates the production of stomach acid and can therefore lead to excessive acidity. Enjoying coffee to a large extent slows down the absorption of calcium and magnesium and lowers the magnesium level in the blood.

The black gold of Ethiopia

The country of origin of coffee is the empire of Kaffa in southern Ethiopia. Myths circulate about how the people there discovered the coffee bean for themselves: goats are said to have slept sleeplessly all night after eating the red fruits of a shrub. A shepherd then ate the fruit himself and was also not tired. Then the monks boiled up the fruit, drank the broth, and they stayed awake. Roasting is said to have been invented by a shepherd when he threw the fruit into the fire and enjoyed the smells.

Mocha is not Turkish

Anyway. In any case, people eventually realized that the coffee beans could be roasted and drank the stimulating drink. Southern Ethiopia was a hub for Arab slave catchers and they brought coffee to Arabia around 1300. Since then, Arabia has claimed the monopoly and sold the beans via the Yemeni city of Mocha - hence the name Mocha coffee.

The Ethiopians still grind the beans in a mortar, then boil them up with water and sugar in a clay jug and drink them in small bowls. The preparation is similar to that of Turkish mocha.

Coffee houses

The first coffee house opened in Istanbul in 1554, but Murad III banned coffee consumption at the end of the century, since he generally interpreted the alcohol ban in Islam as intoxicating drinks. Later, coffee houses were even demolished in the Ottoman Empire. This did not detract from the popularity of the drink, the coffee sellers now disguised their cafes as barber shops. Coffee houses have been allowed in today's Turkey since 1839.

From Arabia, coffee house culture first reached the Italian city-states, then London, France and Vienna. The founders were Christian Armenians. In Germany, the English and Dutch opened the first coffee houses in Hamburg in 1677 and 1694, then in Regensburg, Leipzig and Bremen.

Coffee colonialism

The Dutch soon controlled the coffee trade after growing coffee in their colonies in Indonesia in the 17th century. In 1690, the Dutchman Van Hoorn had coffee plants grown in Ceylon. The first plants came to Europe in 1710. In 1720 the French grew coffee in Martinique, in 1725 in Cayenne, in 1730 in Guadeloupe. In 1727 the Portuguese planted it in large quantities in Brazil. African slaves made coffee in Latin America, which the colonialists exploited to their hearts' content.

Coffea - organic

Today there are more than 14 billion coffee plants in the world. The main growing countries are tropical West Africa, Uganda, Indonesia and Vietnam. There are also India, New Guinea and Latin America. Coffee can only survive under very specific conditions. It does not tolerate changes in the weather, but constantly needs 18 to 25 degrees Celsius and a lot of rain (at least 1500 millimeters per year). Mountain regions that would naturally be mountain rain forests are therefore ideal. The plants thrive best at heights of 500 to 800 meters. The plants do not like direct sun rays, but shadows. That's why coffee cultures stand on shadow hedges. In addition, coffee bushes do not tolerate alkaline soils, but they get along well with slightly acidic soils.

Coffee plants reproduce through seeds, cuttings or grafts. The seeds germinate best after eight weeks; the planters now sow them in seed beds. The first leaves emerge there after five weeks, the young plants come into pots. After eight months they are allowed to go outdoors. The best harvests start at three years and remain stable until the age of ten.

Environmental damage

The traditional method of growing coffee plants in the shade of trees has had little negative impact on soil and biodiversity. The original habitat was not destroyed, although biodiversity decreased compared to natural forests, but many species came to terms with management. Today, however, farmers grow coffee mainly on cleared areas in monocultures. Useful insects that destroy coffee pests disappear, and the planters use high levels of pesticides instead. Birds can no longer find nesting and forage trees. Soil erosion and lack of water are the result of this overexploitation everywhere. In contrast, organic pesticides are not used and the soil vegetation is partially preserved. Ethiopia, Peru and Mexico are pioneers of organic coffee cultivation. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


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