Coffee is not only the second most consumed beverage worldwide (with water being the first) but statistics have shown that over half of the adult population in the United States consumes the beverage every single day.
A hot beverage roasted from coffee beans that dates all the way back to the 15th century. It seems to exist in everybody’s diet and, like a lot of popular beverages and foodstuffs, there is concern about the effect it can have on health.
While it’s often referred to as a guilty pleasure, the antioxidants found in the beverage allow it to provide a number of health benefits. In fact, drinking coffee can provide you with more antioxidants than you would get from both fruits and vegetables, combined (1).
Today, the beans are cultivated worldwide, particularly in countries with warm, tropical weather. This includes Central and South America, South-east Asia, India, and Africa. Due to the type of bean used and method of brewing, there are numerous variations of the beverage out there.
A cup of coffee is a great health boost
In addition to caffeine and antioxidants, coffee also contains vital nutrients that include magnesium, potassium, niacin, and riboflavin. These essential nutrients are likely the reason why coffee serves to enhance your health, in the below-mentioned ways.
1. It contains anti-cancer properties
A review published in the journal Scientific Reports found a strong correlation between the consumption of coffee and a reduced risk of oral, pharyngeal, colon, liver, prostate, endometrial cancer and melanoma.
In fact, both liver and colorectal cancer are some of the top leading causes of cancer death worldwide. However, studies have shown that those who regularly drink coffee face a reduced risk of developing either type of cancer (2, 3).
2. It boosts alertness (and productivity)
Most people have their morning coffee because it provides an energy boost.
Consuming coffee in the morning provides your body with a dose of caffeine, which we know is a stimulant. Once it travels to your brain, your brain then blocks the action of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that suppresses arousal and promotes sleep. This then leads to increased brain activity, which then means improved alertness and boosted energy levels.
3. It may help with weight loss… maybe
Coffee is rich in caffeine and according to a body of research, caffeine is quite effective at far burning as it helps to boost the metabolic rate.
But there is, as yet, no significant evidence that proves that it can bring about significant or long-term weight loss.
4. It can enhance physical performance
As mentioned, caffeine is a stimulant thus it increases the levels of adrenaline in the body. This then prepares your body for some form of physical strain. This can then help to boost your physical performance. Moreover, a study published in the Journal of Pain found that caffeine can also decrease one’s perceived level of pain during exercise and this will then make the workout feel much easier.
5. It may reduce type II diabetes risk
Type 2 diabetes, characterized by high blood sugar and insulin resistance, currently affects over 200 million people worldwide. However, drinking coffee may prevent you from becoming a part of this statistic.
A study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that the more coffee you drink, the lower the risk of you developing type II diabetes. In fact, a 7% reduced risk was linked to a daily cup of coffee.
6. It can protect you from neurodegenerative diseases
Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are two of the most common neurodegenerative diseases worldwide.
Unfortunately, there is still no known cure for Alzheimer’s thus it’s best to adopt habits that will help to reduce your risk. An animal study published in the journal Neuroscience found that mice that were given caffeine from young adulthood showed lower brain levels of amyloid-beta in older age. For those who don’t know, amyloid-beta is a protein associated with the development of Alzheimer’s development.
In regards to human studies, research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that coffee drinkers face a 65% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
In regards to Parkinson’s, there have also been studies that have found a reduced risk of developing the disease amongst coffee drinkers (4). However, it should be noted that the research also found that people who drink decaf do not have a lower risk of Parkinson’s.
7. It can help your liver
The liver is the body’s built-in filtering system. It’s also responsible for filtering the blood as well as detoxifying the body. If the liver is compromised, chances are the rest of the body will soon begin to suffer. However, being a coffee drinker may serve to protect the health of your liver.
According to research published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, a regular intake of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis, a condition whereby the liver has been largely replaced by scar tissue. If that’s not enough, a review published earlier this year by the Current Nutrition Reports deduced that regularly drinking coffee will help reduce the risk of liver cancer.
8. It reduces the risk of depression
Depression affects over 300 million people across the world and is also the leading cause of disability worldwide, yet being a coffee drinker may make you exempt from this.
A study from Harvard University found an association between drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day and a reduced risk of depression. Additionally, a separate study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that participants who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide.
9. It may reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases
Yes, caffeine can increase your blood pressure but the effect is very small (although, it may persist in some people so you may have to monitor your blood pressure). That said, coffee may serve to protect cardiovascular health, as opposed to harming it.
10. It improves your memory
As mentioned, caffeine can help to boost alertness and energy levels, however, it may also help to enhance memory.
A study punished in the journal Nature Neuroscience concluded that caffeine enhanced certain memories at least up to 24 hours after being consumed.
11. It promotes longevity
After reading the above health benefits, it’s no wonder that coffee has been linked to longevity.
In fact, a large study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that, over a period of years, consumption was linked to a 20-26% lower risk of death.
But, are there any downsides to drinking coffee?
Yes, a cup of coffee can provide plenty of health benefits. However, there are a few factors that people should be conscious of when it comes to consuming the beverage.
1. It’s addictive
Similar to cocaine, fast food, and sugar, caffeine activates the release of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine encourages feelings of pleasure and happiness. So, there is a chance that coffee drinkers may become dependent on the beverage. What’s more, not getting to enjoy a cup of your favorite drink may leave you with feelings of irritability. You may also battle headaches and digestive issues.
2. It can leave you extremely anxious
As mentioned, caffeine boosts alertness and adrenaline, yet this may cause feelings of anxiety and nervousness in some people. That said, those who struggle with anxiety, chronic stress or even panic disorders should try to stay clear of caffeine.
How do I enjoy the perfect cup of coffee?
A review published in the British Medical Journal concluded that consuming three to four cups per day is generally safe.
If you want to enjoy it right, it’s best to drink it black. You should also select coffee beans that are organic and free of any pesticides and chemicals. Other alternatives that you could try include chicory coffee (it’s free of caffeine), mushroom coffee, and dandelion root coffee.
Want to know more?
Another beverage enjoyed by many people every morning is green tea. It’s often referred to as the healthiest drink in the world as it’s packed with antioxidants. Click here to find out more about the delicious tea.