Coffee consumption is largely unrelated to psychological well-being, according to new research

Many coffee lovers would tell you that staying well-caffeinated is a key component of your happiness, but is drinking coffee really positively related to well-being? A study published in plus one suggests that excessive coffee consumption may actually be weakly related to decreased long-term happiness.

Well-being can be associated with many different factors, including physical health, mental health, social relationships, and lifestyle choices. Healthy choices have been shown to lead to greater well-being and happiness.

Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicidality and depression in previous research, but research has not focused on coffee’s cumulative effect on well-being. This study seeks to close this gap, knowing that the absence of distress does not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in positive effects.

For their study, Farah Qureshi and colleagues used data from a longitudinal study of US nurses. Data was drawn from participants who had completed measures on happiness or optimism, who also reported their coffee consumption. To evaluate happiness, the sample was 44,449 participants and, when evaluating optimism, data was extracted from 36,729 participants. Participants completed measures on their coffee consumption, psychological well-being, happiness, health behaviors, demographics, and overtime optimism.

The results showed a weak association between minimal coffee consumption and long-term well-being. Moderate coffee consumption had no significant relationship with happiness, while drinking more than 4 cups of coffee per day was associated with lower levels of sustained happiness. Moderate coffee consumption had a weak association with greater sustained optimism, but weak and heavy coffee consumption did not.

“Although the observed associations between coffee intake and psychological well-being were not appreciable, some small differences were apparent,” the researchers said. “Given the large sample sizes used in current analyses, this study was highly powered to detect even minor differences between women with different levels of coffee consumption, perhaps resulting in the identification of associations with limited clinical relevance.”

Bidirectional analyzes showed that the influence of well-being on coffee consumption was also weak and inconsistent. These results are markedly different from previous research, which pointed to the mental health benefits of coffee consumption.

“Prospective studies have found associations between coffee intake and reduced risk of depression and suicide, as well as between psychological well-being and the adoption of healthy behaviors over time,” the researchers noted. “However, the current study found no substantial associations between coffee intake and psychological well-being during up to 20 years of follow-up in a large-scale cohort of middle-aged and older women.”

The study, “Prospective Associations Between Coffee Consumption and Psychological Well-Being,” was authored by Farah Qureshi, Meir Stampfer, Laura D. Kubzansky, and Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald.

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