Study: Coffee still healthy even after adding a bit of sugar to it

Participants’ risk of dying during a 7-year follow-up period were cut by 31% when adding a teaspoon o’ sugar to their cup o’ joe

A spoonful of sugar helps not only the medicine go down, but also that cup of coffee. The good news, according to a new study, is the coffee is still healthy, even with the sweetener.

You read that right. Not only does coffee have health benefits, but so does coffee with a bit of sugar. And by “a bit,” we mean one teaspoon.

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“There’s over 19,000 studies done on coffee and health. And it’s very well-researched,” Andrew Salisbury, Atlanta resident and founder of Purity Organic Coffee, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2018. “There’s just a huge disconnect between what science knows about coffee and what the general public knows.”

For this recent study, researchers at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, analyzed data on 171,616 participants in the U.K. Biobank. The Biobank is “a large-scale biomedical database and research resource, containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants,” according to its website. No one in the study, which began in 2009 and ended in 2018, knew of an underlying heart disease or cancer at the start of the study.

After accounting for lifestyle and other factors, the researchers concluded that “moderate consumption of unsweetened coffee and that of sugar-sweetened coffee were associated with similar reductions in risk for death” from any cause, including heart disease and cancer. The findings were published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Moderate consumption is defined at 1½-3½ cups per day, the researchers wrote. They found people who drank black coffee were 16%-21% less likely to die during a seven-year follow-up. What’s interesting, however, is those who added a teaspoon of sugar were 29%-31% less likely to die in that time frame. Findings for using artificial sweeteners were inconclusive, the study states.

With 62% of Americans drinking, on average, three cups of coffee a day, it’s important to know what effect the beverage has on your body.

Many of coffee’s health benefits come from its high level of antioxidants. Experts often cite coffee as the highest source of antioxidants in the typical American diet. In November 2018, the BMJ published a scientific review by researchers from the University of Southampton that examined 201 studies on the health of coffee drinkers. They found the health benefits from coffee far outweighed any risks.

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