There’s good news for seniors who take their morning brew on the sweet side: A little sugar doesn’t appear to negate the relationship between coffee and longevity after all.
While previous studies have already suggested that moderate coffee consumption might lead to a decreased mortality, it was unclear whether the association still held for the sugar-sweetened version as well. But now, new research in the Annals of Internal Medicine has determined that even people who add a modest amount of sugar still benefit from a lower rate of death over a seven-year period than those who don’t drink any coffee at all.
The research on coffee and longer life
So, is coffee good for seniors? On average, coffee drinkers had lower rates of death from cancer, cardiovascular events and in general—up to 30%. The “sweet spot” appears to be between two and a half and three and a half cups per day. For those who take their coffee black, consuming three cups a day was associated with the best outcomes, while those who added sugar were better off with just two cups.
The amount of sugar added was minimal, however, and at just about a teaspoon per serving, the average subject was not imbibing a huge amount of excess calories. Unfortunately for those who prefer artificial sweeteners, the results were not as promising, as any benefits shown were not statistically significant. However, instant, ground and decaffeinated coffee did pass the muster.
As for why coffee could be playing a role in living longer, researcher Christina C. Wee, MD, wrote this response:
“Coffee is believed to contribute to the body’s antioxidant effects through both caffeine and chlorogenic acids and may also inhibit platelet aggregation and reduce risk for thromboembolism. There is also increasing interest in understanding whether coffee intake has a protective association with dementia.”
Indeed, those with a daily java habit have been shown to have a 28% decreased risk of dementia and a 32% decreased risk of stroke.
Who should think twice before having a cup?
Of course, coffee may not be right for everyone, including people with a few specific conditions. Caffeine can raise the pressure in the eyes for people with glaucoma; it can exacerbate irritable bowel syndrome, and it can send an overactive bladder even further into overdrive. There are also concerns related to epilepsy, certain heart conditions, sleep disorders and anxiety.
Seniors on blood pressure medication may worry about the effect of drinking caffeine as well. Andrew Duxbury, MD, previously explained to SeniorsMatter that he “wouldn’t necessarily say that caffeine is recommended for people on blood pressure medication; it’s relatively safe as long as they don’t go crazy with their intake. What I tell my patients is everyone needs a cup or two of coffee in the morning to get going. But after those first two cups? Switch to decaf.”
Because decaffeinated coffee is associated with the same benefits on longevity, it can be a viable option for people with these conditions.
A tasty cup of coffee for seniors
If the taste of coffee isn’t enjoyable, this new revelation that a little bit of sugar doesn’t take away from coffee’s benefits should bring a smile – and maybe a mug – to many seniors’ lips. Another option is flavored coffees that add aromas like vanilla and hazelnut without the additional sugar or fat. Just beware of coffee drinks that have very little actual coffee and are instead laden with cream and sugar.
If you’re ready to up your coffee routine, many handy products are available to make your next cup quick and easy.
This one-cup Keurig coffee maker is easy to use, and at only 5 inches wide, it won’t take up much counter space—making it one of the best coffee makers for seniors who have downsized after retirement. The single-serving reservoir is lightweight and easy to fill. The machine will also shut itself down 90 seconds after brewing completes—so there’s no need to worry about overheating.
Like the Keurig coffee maker, this one-cupper uses coffee pods and has an automatic shut-off. While cup size is adjustable, it only takes one button to start brewing—making this one of the best coffee makers for seniors with dementia.
For those who prefer a single-serve coffee maker without the coffee pods, this model comes with a 16-ounce thermal mug and automatic shutdown. The reusable filter will save seniors the struggle of dealing with paper filters that stick together, and the one-touch operation keeps everything simple.
Great for seniors who like to brew a pot at a time, this 12-cup coffee maker has a front fill for ease of operation. It comes with a thermal carafe to keep that java hot without the risk of leaving anything on. In fact, the machine shuts down automatically as soon as it’s done brewing. This coffee maker is also programmable, so caregivers can set it and forget it.
This variety pack comes with four different brews: French Roast, Fog Chaser, Organic Rainforest Blend and Breakfast Blend. The capsules are compatible with Keurig 2.0 machines, made from plant-based materials and are compostable.
Keurig Flavored Coffee Pods Collection Variety Pack, Single-Serve Coffee K-Cup Pods Sampler, 40 CountShop Now $27.99
A little added flavor can make a big difference for those who want the benefits of coffee but aren’t big fans of the taste alone. This variety pack comes with 10 different flavors, including hazelnut, raspberry chocolate lava, French vanilla, Kahlúa and more. K-cups are now recyclable where facilities exist.
For added flavor in regular grounds, this variety pack comes with caramel, vanilla and hazelnut.
This fine-ground espresso-style coffee is perfect for the senior who enjoys a rich, bold cup of joe. It works well in all styles of coffee makers, so no espresso machine is needed!
Get a coffee subscription and never run out! This one brings single-source whole or ground beans from a different country each month. Choose between half-bag, single or double-bag shipments every two or four weeks.
Another popular coffee subscription, Bean Box curates coffee from independent roasters around the country. Pick between a variety of blends, including Light & Bright, Medium & Cozy, Dark & Toasty, espresso and decaf, or leave it to the experts to choose. The shipments can be customized to arrive once per week, every two weeks or once a month.