The healthful side effects of consuming coffee normally come with one qualifier: it can’t be sugary coffee. Excess sugar in one’s diet has been shown to have a litany of adverse side effects, so it stands to reason that those extra pumps of vanilla in your daily latte would add up. But a new study states that, actually, you can have a little sugar in your coffee, as a treat.
As reported by Medical News Today, researchers from Denmark and the Netherlands found that adding sugar to coffee and/or tea didn’t have any appreciable effects on a person’s health. For their study, published recently in the journal PLOS ONE, the researchers analyzed data from the longitudinal Copenhagen Male Study, a 40-year survey of Danish men that records their health assessments as well as diets. Nearly 3,000 participants from the study met the researchers’ criteria: those who indicated they drank coffee or tea and who had “no prior history of heart disease, cancer, or type 2 diabetes.”
From there, participants were assigned to one of two groups: sugar and non-sugar. The amount of sugar added by each individual was not recorded, but “assumed it was a small amount.” When calculating the risk for all-cause mortality, type 2 diabetes, and deaths from cancer and heart disease for each of the two groups, they didn’t find any “significant risk” to health in the sugar group versus the non-sugar group.
There were small bumps, though. The death rate went up from 87.5% to 89.9% for the sugar group as well as an increase in heart disease-related deaths, from 35.3% to 38.2%.
Important findings of this study were that, when correcting for important confounders, there was no statistically significant association between the use of sugar in coffee and tea and all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, cancer mortality or incident diabetes mellitus.
Medical News Today does note that there are limitations to the study. For one, it only dealt folks who made their coffee at home. And while there isn’t much in the way of a difference in the coffee itself between home or at a cafe, the amount of sugar likely to be added can be stark. Adding sugar to your coffee at home, for instance, would most likely result in an additional teaspoon or two, having between 4g and 8g of sugar. But sugary coffee drinks from coffee shops can have upwards of 30g, if not more. They also note that because the study only involved Danish men, it may not necessarily extend to other populations. Other factors like “The possibility of reduced sugar use over time, changing socioeconomic status, and the effect of sugar in tea or coffee on other dietary choices” could play some part.
And as with other observational studies, this one involves participants self-reporting data, which isn’t always 100% accurate, and no causal relationship can be established from the researchers’ findings.
Still, the research goes to show that healthfulness need not require deprivation. Being of sound body and enjoying a little something sweet are not mutually exclusive. So have a touch of sugar in your morning cuppa if you so desire. It’s literally not going to kill you.