Investing in Coffee: For Your Health and Your Portfolio

Whenever your editor is not drinking espresso, he is usually drinking wine…and vice versa. It’s all about the health benefits. Otherwise, why consume these foul-tasting fluids?

The documented virtues of (moderate) wine consumption include reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and certain cancers. Wine consumption may also reduce the risk of diabetes and dementia. Best of all, researchers from the University of Bordeaux have determined that moderate wine consumption (2-3 glasses a day) produces a 30% reduction in the death rate from any cause whatsoever. In other words, wine is literally “good for what ails ya.”


Now comes news that coffee also confers magical health benefits. “There is increasing evidence that coffee provides real and easily accessible protection from Alzheimer’s disease,” observes Patrick Cox, editor of the Breakthrough Technology Alert. “For several years now, studies have been coming forth that indicate coffee drinkers are less prone to suffer from a variety of diseases. These diseases range from Alzheimer’s to cirrhosis of the liver to colon cancer and Parkinson’s…

“I’ve hesitated to write about these findings,” Patrick cautions, “because many of the studies are complex, with odd outliers that mean some people in some situations probably shouldn’t drink too much coffee… On the other hand, I’ve got advice from one of the leading scientists, not only regarding Alzheimer’s, but aging in general. That’s Mark A. Smith, Ph.D., professor of pathology at Case Western Reserve University. He’s executive director of the American Aging Association and editor-in-chief of the important Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, which recently published an entire special issue on the subject, “Therapeutic Opportunities for Caffeine in Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Neurodegenerative Disorders.” This is a remarkable issue, and it is available online here.

“I won’t try to summarize the results,” Patrick continues, “but I will quote Dr. Smith, who generously gave me his assessment:

“‘The increasing evidence that coffee and caffeine are of significant benefit in slowing and reducing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease bolsters the approach…that mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and metabolic alterations are underlying factors in Alzheimer’s disease. While the exact pathways that coffee or caffeine impact are still under investigation, several factors appear to play a role in this protective effect, including coffee’s anti-oxidative actions, as well as caffeine’s ability to protect the blood-brain barrier. Based on this, including coffee as part of a balanced diet may be beneficial.’

“For years, Smith has been one of the leading critics of the theory that beta-amyloid and tau protein are the causes of Alzheimer’s disease,” Patrick concludes. “Finally, that message is sinking in. A recent Reuters piece reflects this new understanding – so you might pour yourself a cup of coffee and read it, as well as the JAD issue.”

If, indeed, wine and espresso irrigate the verdant path to longevity, your editor holds out hope for other staples of his diet. Maybe T-bone steaks build immunity against West Nile Virus. Or maybe Pringles reduce the incidence of deep vein thrombosis. Or maybe whipped cream – applied epidermally – boosts the immune system against skin cancer.

Whatever the case, the fascinating findings of dietary science usually stop short of distinguishing between cause and effect. This brand of science merely identifies statisitical correlations between the two.

Chronic consumption of Krispy Kreme donuts probably correlates with a reduced incidence of sports-related injuries and deaths. Not because the donuts are healthy, but because the consumer of said donuts rarely abandons his couch to play any kind of sport.

Net-net, no matter how many scientists study the topic, we will probably never know, conclusively, if cabbage is healthier than cotton candy…or if cabernet is healthier than either one. Nor will we know, conclusively, if coffee produces a greater health benefit than either carrot juice or carrot cake.

Eric Fry
for The Daily Reckoning