Top 12 Health Benefits of Coffee
Coffee is one of the most universally consumed products on the planet, enjoyed by people of every race and nationality on all five continents. If you love your cup of joe, at some point you may have asked yourself is coffee good for you? The good news is that the answer is an overwhelming Yes. The British Medical Journal analyzed 200 studies on coffee consumption and concluded that drinking coffee is more likely to benefit health that harm. (https://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5024)
The earliest written accounts of humans drinking coffee date back to the 15th century so we know that people have been enjoying the drink for hundreds and probably thousands of years. The first place that we know of it being grown and traded is on the Arabian Peninsula where people drank it in public coffee houses. These early cafés were where people went to play chess, listen to music and to discuss culture and share news. They became vital places or the exchange of information and were commonly called the “Schools of the Wise”.
Coffee didn’t arrive in the Americas until the mid 17th century when it was brought across the Atlantic by the British but the popularity of the bean was almost instant with coffee replacing tea as the drink of choice in just a couple of decades. Since then, coffee culture has flourished. Recent studies show that that 64% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee a day (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-coffee-conference-survey/americans-are-drinking-a-daily-cup-of-coffee-at-the-highest-level-in-six-years-survey-idUSKCN1GT0KU) and 83% of Americans are regular coffee drinkers.
There are just so many great things about drinking coffee. It wakes us up in the morning, gets us through to lunchtime and hauls us over the mid-afternoon slump. We enjoy it at home and work, on the subway, in the car. Whether we are alone or with friends, colleagues or business associates, it’s our partner for every occasion; morning or evening, business or social. In fact, it’s hard to think of any other food or drink that fits so well into every part of our lives.
Over the years there have been several debates about the health benefits of coffee with some professionals raising questions about the long and short term effects of consuming the drink. The good news is that there is overwhelming evidence showing a long list of the advantages of drinking coffee. Read on to find out more!
1. Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter
We all know that feeling when you crawl out of bed on a Monday morning with barely enough strength to make it to the shower, never mind to the office. That morning cup of Joe is what gets you on the road! I’m barely capable of conversation before my first cup of the day but once I get that caffeine kick, I’m unstoppable (Well, sometimes!)
You already know that coffee boosts your energy but did you know that it can also make you smarter? Research shows that our favorite drink can boost short term memory and concentration making it the perfect choice for students, business people, parents and anybody who has a busy schedule.
Here’s the science! Our bodies produce a neurotransmitter called Adenosine which makes us feel tired and lethargic. Caffeine stops this substance from reaching our brains, waking us up and giving us energy. By blocking the adenosine, the caffeine also promotes optimal neuronal firing in our brains and boosts our levels of norepinephrine and dopamine which improve cognitive function, mood, memory and reaction time!
2. Can Help You Burn Fat
The caffeine in coffee speeds up your metabolism and helps your body burn fat faster. That’s why the bean is a common ingredient in many weight loss products, but there are also a few other ways that it can help you to lose weight. Coffee is an excellent appetite suppressant. In fact, there is literature dating back to the15th century documenting its use for curbing hunger. On top of that, when you drink it black without sugar, an 8 oz cup only contains about 2 calories. You can burn that off by just lifting the mug to your mouth (probably!).
Coffee can also help you to replace some of the energy that you might be missing when you’re on a restricted diet. Everybody knows that the best way to banish the bulge is a combination of diet and exercise but when you’re on small portions and feeling tired, it can be really tough to motivate yourself. A cup of joe is just what you need to get you started giving you a boost without any fat and virtually no calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight, just make sure to stick to plain black coffee such as Americano or Espresso. Adding milk, cream or sugar turns the drink from diet ally to waistline enemy and heavy, sweetened drinks like Lattes and Mochas can easily add up to 500 calories or more!
3. Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance
As well as improving your mental performance, drinking coffee actually boosts your physical performance, increasing your natural production of adrenalin. It stimulates blood flow to your muscles and increases fatty acids in the blood which is just what you need if you are exercising or doing hard physical work.
Coffee has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties so if aches and pains or muscle fatigue are getting in the way of your work out, a cup of java may be the answer.
4. Contains Essential Nutrients
Yes, you read it right! Coffee is a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Just one cup contains Vitamin B5 (6% of the RDA), Vitamin B2 (11% of the RDA), Vitamins B1 and B3 (2% of the RDA) and Potassium & Manganese (3% of each).
These quantities aren’t huge but if you drink a few cups of joe throughout the day, they soon add up!
5. May Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in today’s world, often linked to a bad diet, obesity and a lack of physical activity. About 300 million people suffer from this disease. It’s a chronic condition where the body cannot control its insulin production and blood sugar levels become too high. The symptoms include exhaustion, constant thirst and needing to use the bathroom a lot. If left untreated, Type 2 Diabetes can have very serious health implications.
Some years ago, scientists began to notice that regular coffee consumption appeared to protect people from Type 2 Diabetes. An analysis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20008687) of 18 separate studies on coffee and diabetes with 457, 922 participants showed that daily coffee drinkers decrease their risk of developing this disease by an incredible 7% per cup consumed! The more cups of coffee the participants consumed, the lower the risk of the disease. Results were the same for both de-caff and caffeinated coffee drinkers.
6. May Protect You From Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease
We already talked about how coffee can make you smarter but did you know that it can also protect you against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers, Dementia and Parkinson’s? Several studies (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20182054) have shown that consuming 3 – 5 cups of coffee a day can decrease the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimers in later life by a massive 65%!
There’s also been a lot of recent interest in coffee and Parkinson’s disease. The Krembil Brain Institute published a study in 2018 (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181105160825.htm) which showed that as well as protecting against Alzheimer’s and dementia, regular coffee consumption can lower your chances of developing Parkinson’s. They identified phenylindanes, natural compounds produced by roasting coffee beans, as the active ingredients which fight the degeneration of brain cells and protect against disease.
On top of this, some nutritionists believe that the antioxidants in coffee can help the body to rid itself of many of the harmful substances which can make us more susceptible to neurological and other medical conditions.
7. May Protect Your Liver
Our liver is constantly working to filter out toxins and contaminants from the bloodstream. A poor diet, excessive sugar or alcohol consumption can make its job even harder and increase the risk of developing diseases like cirrhosis of the liver.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you’ll be delighted to hear that your risk of getting cirrhosis of the liver is significantly reduced (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S104727970100223X). People who drink at least 4 cups of coffee a day can lower their risk of developing this condition by up to 80%! Regular coffee consumption can help your liver to process alcohol and other toxins more efficiently but this doesn’t mean that you should go and celebrate by downing a bottle of whiskey!
There’s also good news on coffee and liver cancer. Studies also show that coffee lowers (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016508507005689), your risk of developing this cancer by approximately 40% For more information about how coffee can prevent cancer read on to number 9.
8. Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier
I know for sure that I’m always more cheerful once I’ve had my first coffee of the day. In fact, people who drink coffee have been shown to be happier than those who don’t and it’s no wonder when you consider all the benefits of a good cup of java!
A British study in 2011 (https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/coffee-drinkers-less-likely-to-be-depressed/) showed that women who consumed at least two cups of coffee a day were 15% less likely to suffer from depression than those who did not. The study surveyed 50,000 women and made the interesting observation that de-caffeinated coffee did not have the same anti-depressant effects.
It’s not just women who can benefit from coffee’s mood enhancing qualities. According to Finnish scientists, coffee has an even more positive effect on men than it does on women. The study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20359377) showed that regular coffee drinkers were 77% less likely to suffer from depression than those who did not consume the beverage.
9. May Lower Risk of Certain Types of Cancer
Various studies have concluded that drinking a cup of joe a day can protect you against a whole range of different cancers, reducing your chance of getting liver cancer by 40% (https://www.news-medical.net/news/2007/08/02/28315.aspx) and the deadly skin cancer melanoma by 20%. A Swedish study (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080424115324.htm) showed that young breast cancer patients were 49% less likely to suffer a recurrence of the disease if they drank two or more cups of coffee a day.
Further research has shown that consuming coffee regularly reduces rates of rectal cancer and prostate cancer. Drinking Italian style coffee such as espresso or Moka Pot brew seems to be especially good at preventing prostate cancer. This is likely to be because it’s a highly concentrated form of the drink.
There is also evidence showing that coffee consumption lowers the risk of uterine cancer, pancreatic cancer and cancers of the digestive tract. Overall research suggests that consuming 2 – 4 cups per day is the optimum amount of coffee for general cancer prevention.
10. Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease and May Lower Stroke Risk
At one point in the past, there was some concern about how caffeine could be associated with heart irregularities. Thankfully research has proved that this is not the case and in fact, coffee is very good for our hearts.
One of the United States longest-running studies on eating patterns and heart health recently revealed that drinking coffee can actually prevent heart disease and strokes. Since the 1940s, The Framingham Heart Study has been following the eating habits and cardiovascular health of some 15,000 people. Researchers at the University of Colorado recently used artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning to analyze the data collected looking for patterns that could reveal the key to maintaining a healthy heart and lungs.
One interesting factor stood out. Participants in the study who drank coffee regularly had significantly fewer instances of stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease and the research (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/circ.136.suppl_1.21081) showed that consuming the beverage regularly decreased the risk of heart failure by 7% and the risk of stroke by 8% for every cup of coffee consumed per week.
11. May Help You Live Longer
Since a few cups of joe can ward off a list of illnesses as long as your arm, it’s not that surprising that people who drink coffee have a longer life expectancy than those who do not.
A British study (https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/coffee-longevity-health-benefits.html) followed the lives of half a million British adults and observed that coffee drinkers were 10 – 15% less likely to die than those who abstained from the beverage. It did not appear to matter whether people consumed standard or de-caffeinated blends and even participants who drank very large amounts of coffee, (more than 8 cups per day) were less likely to die over the ten year period than non-consumers.
12. The Biggest Source of Antioxidants in the Western Diet
One potential explanation for why coffee is so great at preventing illnesses is its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants fight inflammation and protect our cells from being damaged. Consuming these in large quantities can prevent cellular changes that lead to cancer and other diseases.
Green tea has often been promoted as a health drink high in antioxidants but coffee has even higher levels. In fact, it is the primary source of antioxidants in the diets of most people in the Western world (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-08/acs-cin081905.php).
Scientists have identified more than 1,000 individual antioxidant components in coffee beans prior to processing and the roasting process actually develops more. Chlorogenic acid is one particularly potent antioxidant. This is a naturally occurring compound which is only found in coffee.
The latest research suggests that Chlorogenic acid is a powerful agent in protecting heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease.
Other Possible Benefits
Believe it or not, there are even more benefits to drinking coffee than those listed above. In addition to the twelve points we’ve described in detail, here are a few more! Coffee is an excellent source of fiber which is probably one reason why regular drinkers have fewer incidences of colorectal cancers. Scientists have demonstrated how drinking coffee can strengthen your DNA and protect against Multiple Sclerosis.
Some current studies are examining claims that coffee can even boost your sex drive. With so many great things going for it you might think that the more you drink of the stuff, the better. But like anything, moderation is the key. Most people can safely drink up to six cups of coffee per day and enjoy all the of the health benefits we’ve mentioned. However, it is not advisable to drink much more than this amount. Pregnant women shouldn’t drink more than two 8-oz cups of coffee per day and it’s best to avoid the double espressos at bedtime or you’ll probably have trouble nodding off!
With all this knowledge you can enjoy your next cup of coffee, even more than usual knowing that as well as tasting delicious and making you feel great, your coffee is boosting your health and potentially increasing your lifespan!