Many people enjoy their morning cup of coffee, but did you know there are more health benefits to drinking coffee aside from making you happy and awake?
With over 400 billion cups of coffee thought to be consumed every year, coffee is one of the world's most popular drinks. Scientific studies have shown there are many potential positive health reasons for drinking coffee. Some of those benefits might even surprise you.
Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter
The caffeine found in coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels. After you drink caffeine, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and from there travels to the brain. Many controlled trials in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function. Some of these include memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function.
Helps Burn Fat
Yes, you read that right. Did you know that caffeine is found in every commercial fat burning supplement? There is a very good reason for that. Caffeine is one of the very few natural substances that have actually been proven to aid fat burning. Several studies have show that caffeine increases the metabolic rate by 3-11%. Pretty good news, I'd say.
Improve Physical Performance
Heading to the gym? You might want to drink some coffee before you go. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. It also increases the adrenaline levels in blood (epinephrine). This is the "fight or flight" hormone, designed to make our bodies ready for intense physical exertion. Combine this with the fact that caffeine makes the fat cells break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available as fuel. This would explain why caffeine can improve physical performance by 11-12%, on average. Two cups of coffee can even cut the pain post-workout up to 48%!
Lowers Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes currently afflicts about 300 million people worldwide. Amazingly, coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The studies show that people who drink the most coffee have a 23-50% lower risk of getting this disease. According to a massive review that looked at data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individuals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes!
May Protect You From Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide. This disease usually affects people over 65 years of age and, sadly, there is no known cure for Alzheimer's. However, there are several things you can do to prevent the disease from showing up in the first place including the usual things like eating healthy and exercising, but drinking coffee may be incredibly effective as well. Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer's disease.
May Lower Risk of Parkinson's
Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, right after Alzheimer's. Same as with Alzheimer's, there is no known cure. In studies, caffeinated coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing Parkinson's disease, with a reduction in risk ranging from 32-60%. There is also improved motor impairment for those that already have Parkinson's.
Depression is an incredibly common, serious mental disorder that affects about 4.1% of people in the U.S. In one study, women who drank 4 or more cups per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed. Another study with 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide.
Protective Effects on the Liver
The liver is an amazing organ that carries out hundreds of important functions in the body. Several common diseases primarily affect the liver, including cirrhosis, PSC (primary sclerosing cholangitis) as well as cancer. Drinking coffee protects against and lowers the risk of all these conditions.
Lowers Risk of Some Types of Cancer
Coffee appears to be protective against two types of cancer... liver cancer and colorectal cancer. In fact, one study of 489,706 individuals found that those who drank 4-5 cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer. However, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that melanoma risk also decreases with coffee consumption and that this risk decreases with each cup consumed.
Coffee and Heart Health
There is much controversy around the subject of coffee and heart health. One thing to take away from all this is that coffee does not cause heart disease. It is often claimed that caffeine can increase blood pressure. This is true, but the effect is small (3-4 mm/Hg) and usually goes away if you drink coffee regularly. However, the effect may persist in some people, so keep that in mind if you have elevated blood pressure.
That being said, the studies do not support the myth that coffee raises the risk of heart disease. In fact, there is some evidence that women who drink coffee have a reduced risk of heart disease. Some studies also show that coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of stroke. Like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink.
There Are Nutrients in Coffee
Many of the nutrients in coffee make their way into your cup. Some of these beneficial nutrients are:
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
- Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
- Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA.
This isn't big news to a lot of people, but most of us drink 3 - 4 cups of coffee a day. This can quickly add up the nutrients.
Biggest Source of Antioxidants
For people who eat a standard Western diet, coffee may actually be the healthiest aspect of the diet. That's because coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants. In fact, studies show that most people get more antioxidants from coffee than both fruits and vegetables combined!
Increase Your Fiber Intake
A cup of brewed coffee represents a contribution of up to 1.8 grams of fiber of the recommended intake of 20-38 grams. Ever wonder why you have to go to the bathroom after having coffee? Now you know.
Low Calorie Beverage
Regular black coffee (no milk, cream or sugar) has only about 2 calories. You could drink it all day!
Of course, one of the biggest risks of coffee is having too much. Too much caffeine, that is. All food and beverages should be consumed in moderation. Too much of anything is not a good idea. Also, please keep in mind that it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor about any of the things mentioned in this article.
All in all, coffee is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Period.